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WKU Athletes and Fans Celebrate Launch of Red Towel Trust Website

WKU+Football+takes+the+field+against+the+USF+Bulls+for+the+2023+season+opener.+Sept.+2%2C+2023.
Dominic Di Palermo
WKU Football takes the field against the USF Bulls for the 2023 season opener. Sept. 2, 2023.

WKU Men’s Basketball and Football team, coaches, donors and alumni gathered in the Eva and Jim Martens Alumni Center on Dec. 7 to celebrate the launching of the Red Towel Trust website.

The Red Towel Trust, founded by alumni Hank Wilson in 2022, is a name, image and likeness (NIL) collective devoted to supporting student athletes in their endeavors while also emphasizing student athlete involvement in the community.

“We’re pulling together our resources collectively to support as many of these guys [the athletes] as we can,” Wilson said during an opening speech at the launch party.

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The trust has different levels of memberships that fans can choose from depending on how much money they wish to contribute. In return, donors receive different benefits such as Red Towel Trust merchandise, student athlete autographs, a custom video message from a student athlete or opportunities to zoom with a student athlete or coach. 

Through donorship and fan dedication, the trust has distributed $350,000 to student athletes which often goes towards academic, athletic, medical or financial issues.

“It’s [NIL deals] not just big chunk payments and guys buying cars or anything like that,” Wilson said. “A lot of it is these guys [the athletes] spending time with kids that think you guys [the athletes] are superstars.”

According to a presentation given at the event, Red Towel Trust athletes have collectively put in over 500 hours of community service.

“For the deal that I made [with Red Towel Trust], I had to make 52 appearances [community service] which there is only 52 weeks in a year,” Junior wide receiver Malachi Corley said. “So in every week of the year, obviously I wasn’t doing something, so some weeks I did three or four events in order to catch up.”

Those at the event expressed the potential NIL has to change college athletes’ lives and the community for the better.

“I’ve been involved with the Red Towel since the beginning,” Corley said. “It’s given me an opportunity to go to the Boys and Girls Club and go to the housing majority and have an opportunity to be a part of those kids’ lives and their journeys.”

At the moment, the trust only sponsors members of WKU Football and men’s basketball. However, Wilson stressed that the Red Towel team has every intention of expanding NIL deals to other teams on the Hill.

Sports reporter Molly St. Clair can be reached at [email protected].

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