The Financial Benefit of College Athletics


Rachel Rydalch

Guard Dru Glyten brings the ball down the court to begin offense against opponents Lipscomb at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Nov. 10, 2021. (Photo by Rachel Rydalch | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Elijah Murray, Sports Writer


The world of college athletics is an ever-evolving landscape and with that, the opportunities for athletes themselves become more and more available. With the NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) now in action, athletes have more ways to make money and pay for school which previously weren’t possible. University of Utah athletes, current, former and future can all benefit from the NIL by building their networks with local businesses as ambassadors with the help of the U’s new Elevate U program designed specifically for student-athletes.

Elevate U is described as a “program [that] will equip you with the most comprehensive toolbox to make the most of your name, image, likeness, and business ideas.” It dives further into the relationship between the school and its athletes as “this exclusive program is offered to all Utah student-athletes in partnership with the David Eccles School of Business and top-10 nationally ranked Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.” This program not only connects athletics with business but it creates relationships between the students that benefit both sides.

The Elevate U program runs off of three pillars that guide and drive the process, EMPOWER, CONNECT and PROTECT. Elevate U empowers the students involved in the program by allowing them to “explore many opportunities and resources to build your brand and your future.” and it aims to achieve that goal by allowing students to “Learn how to build a sustainable business”, “Learn brand management, creative marketing, leadership and character development”, and to “Build a strong and lasting personal brand”. For athletes playing for an increasingly popular school such as the U of U, these characteristics are crucial for their development during and after their college and potentially professional careers, athletic or not.

The next pillar that the Elevate U program focuses on is connecting students, athletes, and businesses to “foster a thriving network to follow your passions and achieve your dreams.” This part of the program provides students with the opportunity to “learn about campus & community resources”, “get advice from notable Utah alumni and community members”, and “discover how to benefit from your ideas and talents.” Being able to connect is arguably the heart of this program and potential athletes as well as current athletes at the U will surely be drawn to this program and the opportunities it opens up for them that they might not receive at other schools.

The third pillar that this exclusive program prides itself on is protecting everyone involved. Allowing the students to “gain the resources and knowledge you need to maximize your earning potential” will “advance your business endeavors, and learn rules and resources” while they will also “gain skills including negotiations, managing business information, and financial literacy”. With the knowledge gained from this program, students and athletes can feel free to pursue beneficial partnerships that will foster a mutual relationship with the athlete at heart so the financial and ambassador side is properly managed.

In order to make sure all of these pillars are kept intact, Elevate U has multiple partners at its side ranging from on-campus organizations to corporate groups.

The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute “is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Utah and an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business” and is one of the main vessels in which the connections between students and athletes will be formed.

The next partner is UTE ACADEMY, “The Utah Student-Athlete Development program focuses on enhancing the development of student-athletes through professional development, personal development, leadership development and community service. Our goal is to assist in the growth of each student-athlete, as they navigate the transition from a student and an athlete, to a contributing member of society.”

The David Eccles School of Business is the vessel under which the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute operates, and “The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation.”

The Brandr Group is the fourth partner of Elevate U and they “positions brands to leverage Student-Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness in conjunction with University intellectual property to maximize the value of their collegiate sports marketing initiatives.”

The last partner is INFLCR which “is a one-stop-shop to have unparalleled access to digital content, top-notch education, social media value metrics, and NIL monetization opportunities.”

Overall, U of U athletes have financial opportunities unlike many others and with the help of the Elevate U program, the process is much easier to take full advantage of NIL and all of the benefits it provides student-athletes.


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