Lexington, KY (February 1, 2022) – JMI Sports, a leading media rights and venue development company, and its Lexington-based UK Sports & Campus Marketing team, announced today that it has secured a marketing partnership between UK Athletics and the white-label NFT (non-fungible token) platform Mercury as a proud partner. The new platform, called Blue Chips, was created with men’s basketball players as part of a prior NIL (name, image, and likeness) deal and will now have rights to use UK marks in promotion of Blue Chips NFT’s.

Mercury initially struck the NIL deal with coach John Calipari and 11 players in December to create Blue Chips. JMI Sports and UK Sports and Campus Marketing collaborated with Mercury to develop a promotional platform for Blue Chips NFT’s.

“This is a very exciting partnership because it strengthens an existing NIL deal and offers substantial enhancements for both Mercury and the players,” said UK Sports & Campus Marketing President KimShelton. “As collegiate athletics continue to navigate the new NIL frontier, we strive to position our university partners as facilitators that can derive greater value and amplification for student athletes. This deal between UK Athletics and Mercury is a great example of maximizing the potential of an NIL deal.”

As part of the marketing deal, Mercury and Blue Chips will be promoted across the UK Sports Network television, radio and digital media. The NFT brand will also have significant in-venue visibility courtside for men’s basketball games at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

“Mercury is changing the way universities, sports teams, and athletes connect with their fans by providing a more engaging medium than static physical collectibles,” said Porter Grieve, CEO and Co-founder of Mercury. “The support of UK Athletics will ensure that more fans know about this incredible new opportunity to support Big Blue Nation. We couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.”

The initial Blue Chips drops were met with great excitement, selling out three player NFTs (100 each of Sahvir Wheeler, Keion Brooks and Daimion Collins) and Coach Calipari (50 total), as well as three unique player-driven customizable sneakers (Davion Mintz, Dontaie Allen and Kellan Grady). Upcoming NFT drops are expected to be scheduled throughout the season.

JMI Sports is quickly building an impressive track record in the emerging NIL space. In July 2021, it partnered with OpenSponsorship to provide a trusted and safe marketplace solution for UK Athletics corporate partners to use for NIL deals. Since the inception of NIL, University of Kentucky student-athletes have secured more than 700 partnerships. 


Mercury builds white-label NFT platforms designed to give universities, sports teams, and brands the power to create one-of-a-kind digital experiences for their fans. Mercury partners with some of the biggest college sports teams in the country, including Kentucky Basketball, to provide the best long-term solution for creating and selling NFTs to connect with their fan bases and build brand identity. To learn more, visit: www.mercurynft.io


JMI Sports is a leading media rights and venue development company that provides management of collegiate multimedia rights, sponsorship sales agency representation, and project management expertise for the development of collegiate and professional sports facilities. The company serves to maximize each client’s economic potential through customized initiatives, from marketing and branding solutions to facility design strategies. JMI Sports’ signature collegiate multimedia rights partnerships include the University of Kentucky, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, Harvard University, DePaul University, and joint-venture properties of the University of Georgia and Columbia University (with Learfield IMG College), and University of Notre Dame (with Legends). JMI Sports also represents several conferences, including the Ivy League, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Southern Conference, the Patriot League and the Atlantic 10. JMI Sports also serves as third-party sales representation for premier sports properties, venues and events, including the Breeders’ Cup, Clemson University, Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center, The Armory in New York City, the Millrose Games, and the Penn Relays. JMI Sports was founded in 2006 by CEO Erik Judson and technology entrepreneur John Moores, former owner of the San Diego Padres. To learn more, please visit www.jmisports.com.