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Is Memphis Still Angling for Big 12 Invite After Recent NIL Donation?

Dec 29, 2023; Memphis, TN, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) slides during the first half against the Memphis Tigers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Tigers athletic department just became HUGE fans of FedEx after the global logistics company announced on Friday that it will commit a whopping $25 million over the next five years to Memphis’ NIL efforts.

According to On3’s Pete Nakos, it’s a “monumental moment” in name, image, and likeness history, as this is believed to be the first time a corporate sponsor has provided NIL service for an entire athletic department.


The deal, which was facilitated by Altius Sports Partners (per Nakos), calls for FedEx to spend $5 million annually over the next five years, with specific amounts set aside for football, men’s and women’s basketball, and other women’s athletic programs. However, how the NIL dollars will be distributed has yet to be announced.

This move immediately sets Memphis up to be one of the best-structured NIL programs among all Group of Five schools and likely places them right there at the top of the non-Power Four programs.

With the new age of college athletics being partially centered around NIL and the financial opportunities that come with it, having a constant cash flow and organization like Memphis will have is vital to success and growth. This begs the question: Could the Tigers use this as further justification to try and land with the Big 12 or another Power Conference?

In the most recent wave of conference realignment, we saw SMU finally get the chance to move up and into the ACC. The Big 12 is also fresh off of adding Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, and UCF to their ranks, three of which came from the AAC that Memphis resides in now.

Could a superior NIL structure and a few uber-successful seasons in the near future be what it takes to get them a seat at the big boy table? There’s no telling, but it certainly can’t hurt their chances.

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