Ahead of new NIL law, UA announces entrepreneurship program for Razorback athletes

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 828 views 

The University of Arkansas athletics department announced Thursday (May 13) a program to help athletes capitalize on the upcoming name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation set to go into law in Arkansas on Jan. 1, 2022. It allows athletes at institutions of higher education to be compensated for their name, image and likeness.

The UA is calling the multi-faceted program Flagship. According to a news release, Flagship includes working relationships with the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation — which includes the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub and McMillon Innovation Studio — as well as global influencer marketing company Captiv8 and NIL platform NOCAP Sports. The goal, according to the release, is to give Razorback athletes the best opportunity to maximize their personal brands.

Combined with the department’s existing relationship with INFLCR, a content platform that helps athletes build their brands, the UA said Flagship is set to elevate Arkansas athletes’ personal brands, social media influence and earning power.

“Just as we prepare and train our student-athletes to compete and succeed in the classroom and on the fields of athletics competition, we are committed to positioning them for personal success with the new opportunities associated with Name, Image and Likeness,” athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “Arkansas Athletics was one of the first programs in the nation to add a senior staff position to lead those efforts and help Razorback student-athletes maximize their potential.

“By utilizing valuable resources within the Sam M. Walton College of Business and partnering with a variety of other industry leaders, Flagship will effectively serve our 465+ Razorback student-athletes and serve as a model for other intercollegiate athletics programs.”

According to the release, the Razorbacks’ social media accounts have over one million followers combined with the team accounts being some of the most followed in all of collegiate athletics. In 2020, Arkansas Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts received over 10.5 million interactions with the Razorbacks’ men’s basketball accounts picking up over one million interactions in March during the team’s journey to the Elite Eight.

Flagship will launch this month with 25 returning Razorback athletes participating in a progressive, five-week program in June. A second group will participate in July. The curriculum for both programs will focus on:

  • Entrepreneurship Basics
  • Name, Image and Likeness Legislation
  • Influencer Marketing and Personal Branding
  • Business Fundamentals
  • Storytelling and the Art of the Pitch

Housed under the newly created Office of Athlete Brand Development, Flagship will serve all Razorbacks as an in-house resource for all things NIL-related in addition to collaborating in career development programming. The program is led by:

  • Terry Prentice, the senior associate athletics director for athlete brand development & inclusive excellence;
  • Sarah Goforth, executive director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OEI);
  • Cari Humphrey, marketing and creative services director from the OEI; and
  • Karen Boston, senior assistant dean for student-success and chief student officer at the Walton College.

“By their very nature, student-athletes are ambitious, driven and resilient — all qualities that make them natural entrepreneurs,” Walton College Dean Matt Waller said in a statement. “The Sam M. Walton College of Business is thrilled to be part of this collaboration to equip our student-athletes with the skills, mentors, and resources that will allow them to achieve their personal and professional goals during their time as athletes and across their careers.”

According to the release, other partners involved include Captiv8, a global influencer marketing platform. Through the Captiv8 Collegiate curriculum, students will learn the ins and outs of influencer marketing, from its history and recent trends to increasing one’s brand value and understanding platform metrics. The UA is the first institution to partner with Captiv8, and Flagship will help Razorback athletes effectively manage their brands and personal partnerships while unlocking their potential directly to marketers.

NOCAP Sports will serve as the Razorbacks’ platform to facilitate and complete mandatory disclosure and reporting requirements as will be required by the state of Arkansas, NCAA and University compliance rules. Through their marketplace, NOCAP will also be able to connect Arkansas athletes with businesses locally, regionally, nationwide and globally to help maximize potential partnerships.

INFLCR continues its partnership with the Razorbacks as the athletic department’s content platform. Through the INFLCR app, Razorback athletes have exclusive access to content that allows them to build their personal brands on social media. Since Jan. 1, 2020, Arkansas athletes with INFLCR linked accounts have grown their followers by over 220% to more than 1.2 million.