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Wisconsin athletics: UW develops NIL program for athletes ahead of changes to college sports

This is good a good move for the Badgers and will positively affect recruiting too.

2020 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Semifinals Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

On July 1, 2021, some college athletes will be allowed to monetize their NILs (name, image and likeness) thanks to impending state laws in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico. In fact, one state, Georgia, has already signed theirs! On Wednesday morning, there was another hearing in Washington D.C. about a federal NIL bill that, well, didn’t really go anywhere but means that everyone is thinking about this.

In a wild decision, there were zero current athletes and zero women invited to participate in the hearing on Capitol Hill, although Sen. Cantwell did mention that the NEXT hearing would have current athletes at least.

Despite not having a state NIL bill in Wisconsin yet, the University of Wisconsin isn’t waiting and announced on Wednesday morning that “Wisconsin student-athletes will be empowered to capitalize on their own name, image and likeness (NIL) through YouDub, a specifically-designed NIL readiness program for Wisconsin Athletics.”

The YouDub program is a partnership with Opendorse a program that is described in their contracts with various FBS institutions as one that allows athletes to “share content with individuals or groups on your roster, including recommended copy, media, hashtags, notes, etc. or schedule and publish to your owned channels without having to approve via notifications”

(This quote is from Andy Wittry’s excellent newsletter, Out of Bounds, which is a free, weekly newsletter that discusses college athletics. Andy is a Twitter pal of mine and his relentless pursuit of info via open records requests is second to none. I’ve learned a ton from his newsletters and you could too.)

Here is what UW had to say in their press release about Opendorse:

Through YouDub, student-athletes will have access to Opendorse Ready, the market-leading NIL education resource providing custom brand value assessments, live consultation sessions with industry leaders and on-demand access to the NIL Masterclass, an education series featuring experts on brand building, monetization and financial literacy from leading experts at Instagram, Twitter, the Players’ Tribune, Overtime and more.

UW student-athletes also will be equipped with Opendorse Social, the brand-building platform utilized by thousands of athletes throughout college and professional sports to provide for easy access to photo and video content and simplified publishing to student-athletes’ social media channels.

Along with Opendorse Monitor, a tool that serves to protect UW student-athletes and their brands, these offerings will enhance the ongoing efforts and programming of UW’s Brand Engagement and Career & Leadership staffs to support and educate student-athletes in areas including communication skills, brand building, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

This is, if you’ll allow me to editorialize for a moment, a good choice by UW and new athletic director Chris McIntosh (although this deal has obviously been in the works for a while). You do not want to be the school that is late to the party on this. NIL laws are coming and if you aren’t able to help your athletes they’ll simply pick a different school.

“College athletics is entering a new era and we are excited to embrace the opportunities that will come with changes in student-athletes’ name, image and likeness rights,” McIntosh said. “At our core, we exist to prepare student-athletes. Our approach to preparing them for success in the NIL arena will be no different than our commitment to setting them up for success on the field of play, in the classroom and in life beyond their time at UW.

It should 100% be noted, so the comments don’t deteriorate into madness, that this is NOT THE COLLEGES PAYING PLAYERS. This is athletes being able to monetize their literal name, image or likeness on merchandise, endorsement deals, Instagram, etc. We will obviously have more on this when Wisconsin gets a state law or Congress passes a national one.