The NIL era of College Athletics began last week and we’ve already seen more than half-a-century’s worth of Clemson football players announce endorsement deals in some way, shape or form.
As we continue to go down the road of NIL, we should expect that Clemson football players- and athletes in general- will continue to find new and innovative ways to benefit from their own personal brand.
While universities can’t get involved in paying players- as that is still prohibited by the NCAA- there are areas in which the universities, specifically the Athletic Departments, can help set the student-athlete up for the biggest amount of success possible.
How are Clemson football players being helped as they look to promote their own brand?
Clemson announced on Wednesday that it would be building a Student-Athlete Branding Institute.
"“The student-athlete branding institute is really going to be a real positive lever for us as it relates to NIL and our student-athletes creating their brand and continuing to move forward during their time here at Clemson,” Dan Radokovic said Wednesday during a Clemson University Board of Trustee meeting. “So taking some space to the west and creating that one-stop shopping area for not only education on NIL but also the opportunity for content creation, I think is very, very important for us.”"
The project is expected to cost around $4.5 million and will absolutely be a feather in the cap of the Tigers as they pitch to prospective recruits in the future.
In addition, one of the main areas that Clemson is helping its athletes in navigating NIL is through education. According to a release by the university, Clemson has partnered with several internal and external educational resources to assist the athletes.
While the university can’t get involved, Clemson is doing an excellent job of making sure players are compliant with policies and that they completely understand the market. This is going to be even more important as we look ahead to the future and deals become bigger and more prominent.
Clemson has also been partnered with Opendorse since 2015 and that partnership has led to Tiger athletes being ‘ahead of the game’ in terms of building their brand far before benefitting from NIL was legal.
This past fall, Clemson athletes downloaded more than 14,000 pieces of media from their Opendorse media library.
"“At Clemson, we talk about different markets and things that we want to be a part of,” Tyson Hutchins, Senior Director of Creative Solutions at Clemson University, said. “That’s why we’re on Facebook, but we’re also on Tik Tok, and we’re also on Twitter and trying to go where the eyeballs are. When we embrace this player-driven content side of things we’re able to tap into markets that we may not have been able to before.”"
Hutchins said the creative content that Clemson develops and the way that the Tigers use their accounts can help benefit the individual athlete.
"“We’ve seen athletes who in the last year since joining our programs have added 100 thousand followers. When we go and look at their platforms and see how much of that content that they’re posting came from our efforts in providing that Clemson content, it’s a really rewarding feeling and something that we believe really illustrates the power of the things that we’re trying to build.”"
Just for reference, the official Clemson football Twitter account has 983.5K followers. The Instagram has 671K followers and the Facebook page has 402K likes.
The brand that has been built through this program is going to extend to the individual athlete as they look to promote themselves. It can’t be understated and it’s something that can be used on the recruiting trail for the Tigers as prospects look to see what they can gain (indirectly) from the schools they are considering.