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Colleges are Getting Ready for Name, Image, and Likeness

Written by Kassandra Ramsey

· NCAA,College Athlete NIL,College Football,College basketball,PayforPlay

This article will be constantly updated to include each college or university that implements a name, image and likeness education program at their university for college athletes. The article was originally published on September 10, 2020.

College athletes being allowed to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) is rapidly approaching. Starting on July 1, 2021 college athlets in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, New Mexico, and Georgia will all be allowed to profit from the commericial use of their NIL>. This is true despite the NCAA's continuing efforts to prohibit or significantly limit college athletes' ability to do so. While the NCAA continues to drag its feet on NIL, its member institutions have faced the music by creating programs to help college athletes get the most out of marketing their NIL when the time comes. 

Several colleges including The University of Nebraska (Nebraska), The University of Colorado (Colorado), The University of Texas (Texas) at Austin, and Oklahoma State University (Oklahoma) have all created programs to equip their college athletes with the tools necessary to get the most out of marketing their NIL. These NIL programs are sure to give these schools a recruiting advantage. It is highly likely that prospective college athletes will give these schools a second and third look knowing they will be encouraged and provided resources to build their personal brands.

Nebraska's Ready Now Program

In March, The University of Nebraska announced the creation of their new Ready Now Program. Nebraska partnered with Opendorse, an athlete marketing company that assist athletes with monetizing their NIL, to create the program. The aim of the Ready Now Program is to assist Nebraska's college athletes with building their personal brands. Nebraska clearly sees the writing on the wall in terms of college athlete name, image, and likeness. 

In July, the Nebraska State Legislature voted 35-6 in favor of Nebraska's "Fair Pay to Play Act" that was introduced by Omaha Senator, Megan Hunt. Nebraska's "Fair Pay to Play Act" was modeled after California's "Fair Pay to Play Act" that was signed into law in 2019. Nebraska's bill  was passed by the Nebraska State Legislature on July 21, 2020. The bill will not take effect until 2023, like the California law. However, Nebraska's law contains a provison that allows college athletes to profit form their NIL right at this very moment. However, no school has taken advantage of that opportunity. 

Nebraska will be ready with their Ready Now Program. College athletes at Nebraska have already begun to build personal brands. For example, University of Nebraska wide receiver, Wan'Dale Robinson, has worked with the "football team's creative staff" to begin building his brand as a musician.

At the end of the second video, Wan'Dale Robinson's logo appears. Staff at Nebraska assisted Robinson with creating the logo and the staff has done so for other athletes as well. Nebraska is certainly positioning themselves to be at the forefront when college athletes are allowed to profit from their NIL.

Colorado's Buffs with a Brand Program

In June 2020, The University of Colorado announced the creation of their Buffs with a Brand program. The program seeks to provide college athletes with the skills necessary to effectively market their name, image, and likeness. The "Buffs with a Brand" program centers on three pillars. Those pillars are brand management, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Colorado has partnered with Jeremy Darlow of Brands Win Championships. Darlow is an experienced athlete brand consultant. Colorado's announcement of Buffs with a Brand came just months after Colorado Governor, Jared Polis signed a bill into law allowing college athletes to profit from their NIL. Like the California law, Colorado's law will not take effect until 2023. In the meantime, the University will continue to position itself to be ahead of the curve by developing and growing Buffs with a Brand.

Texas' LEVERAGE Program

In August 2020, the University of Texas at Austin announced the creation of LEVERAGE - their college athlete NIL program. LEVERAGE is designed to provide college athletes with the skills and knowledge necessary to efficiently maximize their brand and platform. The LEVERAGE program will include curriculum focusing on financial literacy, wealth management, taxes, and making business decisions. 

The LEVERAGE program is a part of Texas' broader college athlete program, 4EVER TEXAS. 4EVER TEXAS is a program that was developed to work with Texas' Academic Services to prepare their college athletes for lifelong success. The program will provide several professional development opportunities to Texas' college athletes including, mentorship programs, international service trips, and 1-on-1 personal financial counseling.

Oklahoma's Partnership with INFLCR

Oklahoma State University has launched a 5-year branding partnership with INFLCR to assist their college athletes with managing their NIL.

INFLCR is a software platform where sports teams can store, track, and deliver content to their network of athletes, coaches, and brand ambassadors. As a part of Oklahoma's agreement with INFLCR, Oklahoma's football team and the men's and women's basketball team will be able to use INFCLR's NIL data services suite.

With this partnership, Oklahoma will be able to position itself to hit the ground running once college athletes are allowed to monetize their NIL.

Rutgers' Partnership with INFLCR

Rutgers has expanded their partnership with INFLCR. The partnership originally only included the football and men's basketball players. Now all of Rutgers college athletes will be able to take advantage of the partnership. Under the partnership, Rutgers will have access to INFLCR's mobile app where they can receive content from their creative staff to share on thier social media.

Indiana University Partnership with Opendorse

Indiana University (IU) has entered into a three-year partnership with Opendorse. IU will be a part of Opendorse's "Ready" program. The program will provide IU's college athletes with an assessment of their social media, assistance with scheduling post, and a system to flag potentially harmful post. The program will also educate college athletes on their name, image, and likeness rights. IU's athletic department hopes that this program will position their college athletes to take advantage of the NIL changes when they come. They believe that through this partnership, IU will be able to equip it's college athletes with the best brand building tools in the country.

Jackson State University Becomes the First HBCU to Partner with Opendorse


Jackson State University (JSU) is the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to partner with Opendorse to provide JSU's college athletes with the tools necessary to get the most out of their name, image, and likeness. Through this partnership, JSU will be able to share content with its entire athletic ecosystem through coaches, players, alumni and many others. The college athletes at JSU will be provided the tools necessary to maximize their voice via social media.

The University of Louisville's ELEVATE Program

On September 17, 2020, the University of Louisville (Louisville) announced their partnership with Opendorse. Together with Opendorse, Louisville will create ELEVATE, a program designed to help college athletes build their individual brands. Louisville recognizes that NIL changes are coming to college sports and as such Louisville seeks to be prepared.

The ELEVATE program will provide Louisville's college athletes with the opportunity to understand their NIL rights and receive expert assistance on how to maximize their value while on campus. ELEVATE will provide three core pillars to Louisville's college athletes. Those pillars are assessment, education, and performance.

Wake Forest's STRIDE Program

On October 12, 2020, Wake Forest University announced the creation of their new initiative entitled "STRIDE." Wake Forest created the "STRIDE" initiative to help their college athletes get the most out their name, image, and likeness when the time comes. According to Wake Forest, STRIDE is a comprehensive program that will focus on two key initiatives: education and personal brand management. The goal of the program is to provide college athletes with the tools necessary to build their brands and capitalize on name, image, and likeness opportunities when they come.

On October 13, 2020, Wake Forest University took the "STRIDE" initiative a step further when they announced their partnership with Opendorse.

Through the partnership, Wake Forest University will get full access to Opendorse's social media publishing program and a college athlete assessment program built to prepare players for the future of college athletics.

The Arizona Edge Program

The University of Arizona (Arizona) is the latest school to join the fray of colleges and universities that have implemented name, image, and likeness programs for its athletes. On October 27, 2020, Arizona announced the creation of the Arizona "Edge" program. The aim of the program is to educate, inform, and assist college athletes with developing their NIL as a part of the NCAA's NIL legislation that is expected at some point.

Like many of the other programs, Arizona's Edge program will focus on assisting their athletes with personal brand management, business development, financial literacy, networking, and aspects of Business Law. Arizona's Athletic Department has developed this program as a part of its partnership with the University of Arizona's prestigious Eller College of Management. Arizona also has a partnership with INFLCR. Through that partnership, Arizona's college athletes will be provided with resources to better grow their brands through social media content.

The University of Missouri's TradeMark Program

The University of Missouri (Missouri) is ready to help their college athletes make their "mark" through the implementation of their new TradeMark program. Missouri has partnered with Opendorse Ready to create the TradeMark program. Missouri is the first Southeastern Conference school to partner with Opendorse Ready. Missouri's TradeMark program will provide their athletes with the tools they need to enhance their personal brands.

Missouri's athletic director, Jim Sterk noted that it is important for the university to provide their college athletes with the opportunity to cultivate their personal brands and to be able to use it as leverage for future opportunities beyond athletics.

University of Southern California Partnership with INFLCR

In January 2020, the University of Southern California (USC) announced their partnership with INFLCR. With the partnership, college athletes at USC will have access to USC's mobile app gallery of photos, videos, and graphics created by USC's athletics staff and other external media outlets that cover USC athletics. Since the inception of the partnership, INFLCR conducted an audit and found that USC football players had an audience valued at more than $680,000 annually on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Additionally, the audit found that 17 of the 2019 Trojans had a social media audience large enough to be valued at $10,000 annually.

Accordingly, USC football has entered into a partnership with J1S to create the "BLVD Studios" program for USC's football players. J1S is a creative agency that helps brands connect to the next generation. The" BLVD Studios" program will provide USC's football players with an annual curriculum focused on individual brand growth, social media strategy, market opportunities and financial literacy. USC's football players will also have access to a full service platform to track content performance and to assist with understanding social media analytics such as engagement rates and audience demographics.

Purdue Athletics Extends and Expands its Partnership with INFLCR

Last week, Purdue Athletics announced its plan to extend their partnership with INFLCR. Purdue Athletics has a multi-year partnership with INFLCR under which college athletes will receive assistance with brand building and social media education. In 2018, Purdue Athletics became the first Big 10 Conference program to partner with INFLCR. At that time, the program was offered to the men's basketball program. With the recent partnership extension, the INFLCR platform will now be available to the entire athletic department.

Oklahoma Sooners Athletic Department Rolls Out New NIL Program - The Foundry

The University of Oklahoma (Oklahoma) has announced the creation of their new program to assist their college athletes with benefiting from the impending name, image, and likeness rule changes.

The program is entitled "The Foundry" and its tag line is "Forge Your Future." Oklahoma extended its partnership with Culture Wins, a company that provides in person and on-demand content to unlock potential leaders. Through this partnership with Culture Wins, Oklahoma's college athletes will have content on NIL, communication, self-awareness, personal brand, financial planning, and much more right in the palm of their hands.

Virginia Commonwealth University's Name, Image, and Likeness Program

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has name, image, and likness program. Two Maryland companies, Team Services and Maroon PR, partnered to creat the SAIL program SAIL stands for Student Athlete Image and Likeness. VCU is the first school to sign with SAIL program. The purpse of the program is to assist schools with navigating the new NIL rules.

Florida State University Apex Program

College athlete in Flordia will be allowed to profit from the commericial use of their name, image, and likeness on July 1, 2021. Florida State Univeristy (FSU) is getting ready with its new Apex program. Apex is a comprehensive, multi-tiered program deesigned to empower college athletesto get the most out of their NIL opportunities.

Apex was designed through an educational partnership with FSU's Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship and FSU's national renowed College of Busienss and Academic Center for Excellence. Two for credit courses that includes NIL instruction will be offered. Additionally, college athletes will be offered the opportunity to elevate their social media by using INFLCR's platforms.  FSU Vice President and Director of Athletics David Coburn stated “Apex is structured to allow student-athletes to maximize their NIL potential while in college and help them graduate with less debt, assist their families and prepare for the next chapter in their lives.”

The Univeristy of Georgia Name, Image, and Likeness Program

The Univerity of Georgia (UGA) has entered into a partnership with Altius Sports Partners (ASP). The partnership is designed to assist UGA’s athletes with the expected rule changes allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. ASP and UGA Athletics staff will present a year-long series of educational workshops and open discussions and other resources for UGA athletes.The partnership will include NIL specific instruction focusing on personal branding and brand management; business formation and entrepreneurship basics, financial literacy, and opportunity management. The program will also focus on money management, taxes, social media opportunities and monetization, personal appearances, merchandise, camps and clinics, in-kind deals, equity and investing, and health and wellness.

The University of Alabama's "The Advantage"

The University of Alabama created The Advantage program to provide Crimson Tide college athletes with the education and tools needed to elevate their personal brands. The Advantage will focus on brand management, maximizing personal social media platforms and financial literacy.

Mississppi State University Name, Image and Likeness Program

The List of Schools Creating NIL Programs Continues to Grow

Several other schools have partnered with Opendorse and joined their "Ready" program. In addition to those already discussed other schools include, Texas Christian University, Clemson University, The University of Central Florida, and Fresno State University. Opendorse also has a partnership with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference(MAAC). Through this partnership the MAAC seeks to highlight the stories success of MAAC's athletes on and off the field.

Change is Underway!

Change is imminent. Some college athletes will get the right to profit from their name, image, and likeness on July 1, 2021.  Schools are putting programs in place to position their college athletes to build their personal brands and equipping their athletes with the knowledge necessary to be successful. More schools are sure to follow suit as they will have to remain competitive in recruiting. While the NCAA, Congress, and state legislatures continue to iron out allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, colleges and universities are preparing for name, image, and likeness. 

For more on college athletes' name, image, and likeness rights follow me on Twitter @esquire_coach and on Instagram @the_esquirecoach. To receive updates from The Esquire Coach Blog directly to your email please subscribe below.