It’s been over a year since NCAA athletes started being able to profit for their name, image and likeness.
The new policy changed the game, with big-name athletes like Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Caleb Williams cashing in — worth nearly $9 million in NIL value.
Last month, one of Syracuse University's biggest donors, Adam Weitsman, owner and chief executive officer of Upstate Shredding – Weitsman Recycling, decided to dive in by offering $1 million each to one five-star football player and one five-star basketball player to represent his companies.
Weitsman is using some of his fortune in this way, but he didn’t always have the multi-million dollar mansions, the Bugatti or the helicopter.
“I owe a lot to this area," he said. "I’ve been given more than one person should have, so it’s my job to give it back to people.”
The NIL money is the tip of the iceberg.
“Doing stuff for the charities, people in the need, it’s way more important," Weitsman said. "This is a secondary thing for me.”
It’s estimated the Owego native's net worth is $1.5 billion. He’s donated millions to local charities and nonprofits.
“If you’re going to do a good story, you might as well talk about the bad too. It’s real life,” he said.
Weitsman is not shy about the crime he committed in the late 1990s that led to prison time in 2004.
“I had started the shredding company. I didn’t really know what I was doing too well. The plant wouldn’t run, so there was a period of time, it’s called check kiting. It's transferring funds back and forth, which is a felony, of course. I deserved to go to jail,” he said.
He pleaded guilty to 86 felony counts of bank fraud and was sentenced to a year and a day in Otisville federal prison. He served eight months.
“I learned something," Weitsman said. "It takes five minutes to ruin your reputation. It takes 20 to win it back. I’ve still got a few years to fix the wrongs.”
One of the ways he’s doing that is providing NIL money for student athletes.
“I’m looking for the top players," he said. "They have to have to great athletic talent, but they also have to be good individuals.”
He’s working to salvage his reputation by giving back to the community that picked him up when he was down.
“I didn’t want the legacy for me to be some ex-con father," he said. "I’m working hard to do things for the community that reached out a hand, helped me back up.”