You might have noticed U wide receiver Britain Covey’s photo proudly displayed on a billboard for a Utah-based credit union. Or maybe you’ve been served up ads on social media with him endorsing the financial institution. While it is hardly unusual to see professional athletes create their own brands and leverage their popularity for companies, it is a new occurrence for college athletes.
Student-athletes are now allowed to monetize their fame thanks to a change in NCAA regulations that went into effect last July. Covey is one of the first U competitors to do so. But he won’t be the last. To help Covey and other student-athletes navigate this new landscape, Utah Athletics has partnered with the David Eccles School of Business and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to launch Elevate U, which provides the tools and education to help them maximize the chance to earn money from the use of their name, image, and/or likeness (NIL).
“What is unique to NIL is that it is not taking money away from other programs, athletes, or people,” says Covey. “Instead, it is the creation of new money, new partnerships, and new opportunities that previously were deemed as violations.”
Elevate U builds on the well-established Ute Academy student-athlete development program, which includes leadership training, an incoming student-athlete transition class, networking nights, and employer site visits. Elevate U will teach brand management, creative marketing, leadership, character development, and how to create a sustainable business, says Charmelle Green, Utah Athletics chief operating officer. Green and Athletics Director Mark Harlan oversee Elevate U.
“The collaboration between our Elevate U working group and our partners from the David Eccles School of Business and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute has been inspiring,” Green notes.
Elevate U will help U athletes foster a thriving network, learn about campus and community resources, obtain advice from notable U alumni and community members, and discover ways to benefit from their ideas and talents. Student-athletes will be protected by gaining the resources and knowledge needed to advance business endeavors successfully within the complexity of rules and regulations and can develop valuable skills including negotiation, managing business information, and financial literacy.