Thirty students from the University of Central Arkansas have been signed to “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL) agreements with the Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau, the group announced Thursday (July 15).
Conway CVB said it is the first public entity in the country to enter into NCAA NIL agreements. The plan is to utilize the student athletes as ambassadors for the city’s “quality of place,” touting Conway’s amenities to residents and visitors.
State legislators passed a NIL law this past session. It goes into law on Jan. 1, 2022. It allows athletes at institutions of higher education to be compensated for their name, image and likeness.
“Conway is a growing college town with great restaurants and parks. We have a lot to offer students, visitors, and young professionals,” said Rachel Shaw, Executive Director of the Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau. “No one is in a better position to explain what it’s like to move here and thrive than this group.”
The 30-person inaugural group will equitably represent all men’s and women’s sports. In the coming weeks, individual athletes will go through a selection process with the CVB and begin to promote the city through video testimonials, ad campaigns, and their own social media accounts.
“We’re going to treat these young adults professionally and pay them competitively. We are making high-quality paid training available that will cover reputation management, business, and communications,” said Shaw. “Our first responsibility is to do a good job promoting all our city has to offer. But we also have a responsibility to put back into our college students and expose them to a high-value business experience.”
The CVB said it will consider a number of factors in choosing brand ambassadors: academic standing, references, social media activity, athletic performance, and equitable representation.
Shaw estimates that most of the students will earn between $500 to $2,000 during their time in the program.
“The CVB is getting a good deal with regard to the exposure. And our ambassadors will have the opportunity to earn fair compensation rather than just rewards or merchandise.”
The University of Central Arkansas is a Division I program and a member of the ASUN. UCA Athletic Director Brad Teague thinks the announcement is historic.
“We are fortunate to be in a community that is willing to innovate and think outside the box for the betterment of our program, our campus, and our city. I am especially pleased with the educational component of these NIL agreements,” he said. “The CVB will offer up to 30 of our student leaders these NIL agreements. It will allow almost 10% of our students to sign NIL contracts annually and will equip them with skills for life. I am also very appreciative of the diverse selection criteria they have put in place. Members of all of our 18 sponsored sports will benefit.”
Men’s basketball player Jaxson Baker is one of the program’s first signees. Baker is the current president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). The Phoenix area native also has 84,000 followers on TikTok.
“I think it’s really cool for them to have us in their minds and to approach us with this concept,” said Baker. “I know our student-athletes appreciate this. It’s really a win-win for both parties. And I think it will be key in getting student-athletes to come here. It will show them that this place is just as important as people say it is. To have the community come around and support us and in turn we support them. I’m really excited for it.”
The student athletes will post in their social media feeds, deliver testimonials for CVB use, and focus on content specific to Conway, such as restaurants, sporting events and other amenities. Participating student athletes will also be paid to attend 6-10 hours of high-quality, in-person business training/mentorship provided by www.ARConductor.org. Finally, they will be exposed to other local brands and businesses for additional NIL opportunities or future employment opportunities.
The University of Arkansas rolled out its plan for helping student athletes with NIL agreements earlier this year.