An interdisciplinary program helps student-athletes monetize their name, image and likeness
Since the 1950s, the NCAA has held on to vague definitions of amateurism and used the term it coined, “student-athlete,” to avoid the legal liability that could result from college athletes being seen as employees. Now, however, a decades-long movement to allow student-athletes to receive monetary benefits from their athletic endeavors has finally borne fruit.
Like states across the country, Illinois recently passed and enacted a law that enables student-athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) without jeopardizing their NCAA eligibility or scholarships.
Taylor Stapleton, DePaul’s senior associate athletics director for revenue generation and strategic initiatives, says, “Any other student on our campus can be an influencer, can sell products online, can monetize off their name—but not student-athletes. This modernization of the rules has needed to happen for a while.” Along with being paid for advertising and endorsements, student-athletes can now engage in fundraising and participate in camps and clinics for pay without penalty.
With new opportunities comes new challenges for student-athletes and their families. To help them understand the law and make the most of this change in the rules, DePaul has developed LEGACY, a comprehensive entrepreneurship and brand-development educational program.
LEGACY, a collaboration between the Driehaus College of Business, the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and the College of Communication, is designed to help student-athletes explore the intersection of athletics and business through means such as digital tools to assess their personal brand and advice from industry experts. The program positions DePaul Athletics among the first departments in the country to embark on such a strong collaboration on campus.
LEGACY builds on existing DePaul courses and provides new learning opportunities centered around four concepts:
- Financial literacy
- Brand management
- Social media strategy
Thomas Donley, acting dean of the Driehaus College of Business, says, “We will deepen student-athletes’ entrepreneurial and athletic business skills and knowledge through tailor-made seminars led by our faculty experts in these areas.”
“The College of Communication is ready and enthusiastic to help student-athletes,” says Alexandra Murphy, interim dean of the College of Communication. “Through this innovative partnership, we will connect students with professors and industry experts so that they can acquire essential entrepreneurial and media skills in sports communication, as well as related topics in public relations, journalism, public speaking and personal branding.”
The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center is making it possible for student-athletes to access a mix of academic and extracurricular programs across the center, as well as workshops specific to NIL. Bruce Leech, CEO of the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, says, “We define entrepreneurship as a skill set for being innovative and creative, as well as learning how to do business. We welcome the opportunity to have DePaul student-athletes involved in our experiential programs and training.”
Stapleton says, “Right now, we’re working on a list of courses that directly pertain to NIL and that require no or limited prerequisites, as well as content like short videos, workshops and seminars. We’re also working on some workshops for any students with an interest in learning about entrepreneurship.”
In addition, the department has entered into a partnership with the brand-creation platform INFLCR, which allows student-athletes to manage many aspects of establishing and promoting a personal brand using a smartphone or other internet-enabled device.
Vice President and Director of Athletics DeWayne Peevy says, “DePaul Athletics is committed to helping our students advance their personal brand, improve their financial literacy and create another path to achieve their future goals.”