Amid uncertainty, schools prepare for paid athlete endorsers
“We could name something ‘Unleash,’ toss a couple graphics together, some cool pictures and toss out our social media ad and call it done,” said Bryan Blair, deputy athletic director at Washington State. “But I’d rather our coaches have some things that are at their disposal to talk through and then when we feel like we’ve got a better handle on where we’re going, then we’re ready to jump out and take advantage of this.”
Most of the programming in place on campuses is focused on education, teaching athletes entrepreneurism, financial literacy and brand development.
At Wazzu, for example, Blair said athletes will have the opportunity to take a one-credit class at the business school that covers those areas. At Tennessee, NIL-related education will now be part of the school’s entrepreneurship minor.
Arizona tapped into its Eller College of Management to create Arizona Edge, which gives athletes access to professors and experts affiliated with the university. Brent Blaylock, senior associate AD for compliance, said the goal is for athletes to be “empowered to be their own personal business entities.”
Arizona’s plan also includes a partnership with INFLCR, which has been working with schools for several years to help programs and athletes raise their online profiles.
In a public records request last month, AP requested contracts from each Power Five conference public school with any company that provides services related to name, image and likeness. The 23 schools that responded by publication time have committed nearly $1.9 million to contracts that range from Oregon State’s five-year, $216,000 deal with Opendorse to the $10,000 one-time payment Arizona State made to the company for providing photos athletes can use to enhance social media posts.
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