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USF launches 'Name, Image, Likeness' program for athletes

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  • | 5:00 a.m. September 15, 2023
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USF will add a "Name, Image, Likeness" (NIL) offering to its courses, to help athletes protect their digital likeness and imagery.
USF will add a "Name, Image, Likeness" (NIL) offering to its courses, to help athletes protect their digital likeness and imagery.
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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The University of South Florida says it is starting a program for student-athletes, administrators and parents to educate themselves on "Name, Image and Likeness" to help them "set a strategy and make informed decisions in the ever-changing NIL landscape."

According to a Thursday news release, USF's Corporate Training and Professional Education unit has partnered with Total NIL to create a non-credit certificate program.

The program will provide participants with the skills needed to capitalize on their name, image and likeness, USF officials say.

"Foundations of NIL" will be aimed at current and aspiring college athletes as well as administrators, coaches and parents who want to better understand and prepare for future NIL deals.

Open to the public, the four-module, self-paced, $495 certificate program is fully online and includes four modules: NIL 101, Defining Your Brand, Maximizing Social Media and The Anatomy of an NIL Deal. 

USF officials say the course is taught by sports industry leaders with deep experience in college athletics.

Instructors include:

  • Lauren Hoselton, the CEO of Total NIL and the director of player development for the Ole Miss Collective, the Grove Collective and a former Division I athlete who secured dozens of NIL deals the first year it was passed.
  • Mercedes Sapp, a coordinator for student-athlete enhancement at USF Athletics, where she helps students with NIL education. She competed as a Division I athlete and comes from a storied sports family that includes former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warren Sapp.
  • Jon Schwartz, a sports executive who held senior leadership roles with the Big Ten Conference, National Football League and NASCAR. He is also a strategic communications consultant and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport.

USF says though critics predicted that NIL would only benefit a small percentage of athletes, "analysts from ESPN note that 'athletes, from star players in high-revenue sports to walk-ons to charismatic athletes in lesser-viewed sports, have found the NIL space to be quite lucrative.'" 

"We saw a need in the marketplace to provide an unbiased course on NIL as a means to educate the people who are interested in NIL," says Mark Koulianos, assistant vice president for university-community partnerships at USF, and the leader of the Corporate Training and Professional Education team. 

Koulianos said NIL is an "everchanging landscape and there is a lot of confusion among parents, coaches, student-athletes and even athletic directors."

"This program is one tool in the toolbox to help student-athletes navigate the ins and outs of NIL and playing at the college level, regardless of which sport they play – and whether the choose to attend a D1 school, a smaller private institution or a community college," he says. "Understanding the anatomy of a deal can help people avoid entering into a bad deal."

Koulianos says that participants will learn from instructors, get a roadmap detailing what it takes to make a good deal and learn what it takes to develop, activate and monetize NIL. And they will have a digital Credly badge to prove it, he says.

Credly digital badges are a web-enabled way for people to share their learning achievements, experiences and credentials with others, USF officials say.

USA Volleyball Florida Region and USA Lacrosse North Florida are partners on the endeavor, according to USF.


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