USC’s Caleb Williams strikes NIL deal with real estate private equity fund

Quarterback Caleb Williams stands on the field after a game between Oklahoma and Texas.
Quarterback Caleb Williams after a game between Oklahoma and Texas on Oct. 9, 2021 in Dallas.
(Jeffrey McWhorter / Associated Press)

His high-profile transfer to USC marked a potentially transformative moment in the new age of name, image and likeness, and in the three weeks since his arrival, Caleb Williams has already made waves in that world, announcing a major deal with Beats by Dre, inking a licensing agreement with Fanatics, helping soft-launch an alkaline water brand and becoming a part-owner of a modern men’s grooming company.

But his latest partnership may be the most unique in the star quarterback’s growing portfolio.

Williams has entered into a long-term agreement with Hawkins Way Capital, a Beverly Hills-based real estate private equity fund, whose partners said they plan to show USC’s quarterback the ropes of the real estate world with the possibility of partnering on future investment opportunities.


For Williams, it’s a chance to leverage his current NIL potential to lay the groundwork for future business ventures.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to get some experiential learning in a valuable component of business,” Williams said in a statement.

For Hawkins Way, which manages close to $2 billion in assets, the opportunity to partner with a potential Heisman Trophy candidate could prove valuable in its own right. But Ross Walker, a managing partner at Hawkins Way, said the relationship arose more out of an intent to mentor the USC quarterback, whom he was introduced to even before Williams’ freshman season at Oklahoma.

“We’re taking a bet with Caleb and hopefully he crushes it and a lot of good can come from that,” Walker said. “But we legitimately want him to learn and to provide him opportunities. We bring a lot of real estate investments, but we can also be a sounding board for him. He can talk to us. We can give him objective advice. It’s really an investment in this kid.”

USC used the loose rules and extra eligibility triggered by coronavirus issues to bring in 13 transfers who want to play for Lincoln Riley.

Feb. 4, 2022

The terms of that investment were not disclosed. But Williams’ deal includes annual compensation for the quarterback, who’s expected to remain at USC for the next two seasons before entering the NFL draft in 2024 as a potential top overall pick.

Until then, the idea is to open doors for Williams in real estate, preparing him for business opportunities off the field as part of a partnership both sides believe is the first of its kind in college sports.


“Our plan is to expose him to how our firm operates and how we do business,” Walker said. “We’ll give him the opportunity to participate in ideas. And also, vice versa, when he gets opportunities presented to him, we can help him understand how to analyze those, and we can participate in those together.”

Longtime real estate developer Lew Wolff, a fellow partner at Hawkins Way and chairman emeritus of the Oakland Athletics, funded the partnership with Williams “for mentorship purposes,” he said. Wolff was introduced to Williams and his father, Carl, last August with Walker and came away immediately impressed by the young quarterback and his demeanor.

“Hopefully he will come out of this as [Tom] Brady or somebody like that,” Wolff said. “I want Caleb, when he has time, to learn and have a business when he leaves sports.

“But hopefully that’ll be a long time from now.”