IPZ, an alliance with Warren-based Zito Partners, which represents many clients in sports, media and entertainment, announced a new client and a crypto connection with one it represents.
On Thursday, IPZ said Clifford “Big Cliff” Omoruyi, a 6’11″ student-athlete at Rutgers University, signed with the firm under the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rules.
Omoruyi is originally from Benin City, Nigeria, and came to New Jersey as a 14-year-old old seeking an education and a college degree. Basketball was a tool that he hoped would help him achieve his goal. He began his high school career at Queen of Peace in North Arlington and ended it by leading Roselle Catholic to a 22-7 record and an NJSIAA Non-Public B North title in a season that was cut short due to the COVID shutdown.
Omoruyi was a consensus four-star prospect in high school and became the first New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year to commit to Rutgers University. He was also the first Top 50 high school prospect to commit to Rutgers since 2010. In the 2020-21, season he became the first Rutgers freshman since 2008 to record a double-double in his debut, while, in the classroom, making the Dean’s List for academic excellence.
“I saw Cliff play in high school and was immediately drawn to his smile … his love for his teammates … and, of course, his game,” said Robert Zito, IPZ managing partner. “This is a young man who exhibits discipline, loyalty, teamwork and ‘getting it done’ in the classroom and on the court. With a 3.5 GPA and his work representing Rutgers and New Jersey on the basketball court, Cliff has been a phenomenal asset to both the school and the state.”
In 2021 the NCAA officially announced a new NIL policy that allows athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. However, the law remains unclear as it translates to international students in the U.S. on F-1 student visas.
Prominent New Jersey attorney Peter Till has been engaged to navigate the complexity of the F-1 student visa issues as it relates to Omoruyi and other college athletes.
Also announced this week by IPZ is news that Quinn Sullivan, the Philadelphia Union’s home-grown emerging star, is the first soccer player in the world to be signed by Metabilia, an NFT platform that enables fans to participate in players’ careers.
Sullivan is Metabilia’s first soccer player that fans can invest in.
“Quinn is an ideal athlete for users of I Got It. We are pioneers of the Metabilia Membership NFT program, which allows member NFT holders to purchase commemorative NFTs as his career unfolds,” said Joseph De Perio, founder and CEO of I Got It. “Starting with his amazing first MLS goal last year, a stunning bicycle kick, we are certain Quinn will have a dedicated group of fans looking to share in his career achievements.”
Metabilia has three distinct business lines: the Player NFT line, which Sullivan will be part of; the Museum line, which launches with the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the first client; and the Team line, which includes NFL and NBA teams that offer game-worn and autographed memorabilia in addition to NFTs.
“This new platform enables fans who love fantasy leagues in every sport to participate in their favorite player’s career,” said Jeff Curtin, managing director of IPZ. “We are thrilled that Metabilia picked Quinn to be the ‘first’ of what we know will be many soccer stalwarts on the platform.”