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UConn launches initiatives to help athletes make money

NCAA UConn South Carolina Basketball
Charlie Neibergall
Associated Press
UConn's Paige Bueckers tries to get past South Carolina's Destanni Henderson during the first half of a college basketball game in the final round of the Women's Final Four NCAA tournament Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Minneapolis.

UConn announced Monday it has launched several new initiatives designed to help its athletes profit from the use of their name, image and likeness.

The players will receive support from the school's new "Championship Labs," part of the Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will help the students create a personal branding plan and mentor them in implementing that plan with business coaching and other support.

UConn also said it will be working with so-called collectives, UConn boosters who pool their resources to identify money-making opportunities for athletes.

The school is already working with Opendorse, a company that specializes in helping institutions and athletes navigate NIL rules and laws. UConn said its media-rights partner, Learfield, will partner with Opendorse to form a "branded marketplace" that will help pair athletes with opportunities using the UConn name.

Learfield has committed to hiring a dedicated staff member to sell and facilitate deals for athletes within the Northeast, UConn said.

"There is an abundance of resources on campus that will help us navigate the NIL landscape as we endeavor to provide our student-athletes with the necessary knowledge and tools to succeed in this space," Director of Athletics David Benedict said.

The new initiatives were made possible in part by a state law that goes into effect July 1. It will allow athletes to use the school's name and logos in NIL deals, something that was previously prohibited in Connecticut.

Benedict has hired Jason Butikofer, a former athletic director at Southern Utah, to serve in a new position as a liaison between the students and Learfield, Opendorse, the Werth Institute and the collectives.

The athletic department said it also plans to work with its International Student & Scholar Services to assist international athletes, many of whom are prohibited by the conditions of the student visa from making money through most NIL deals.

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