On Nov. 2, Jimmy Lake was asked about his program’s approach to impending name, image and likeness legislation.
And, while he declined to provide specifics, UW’s first-year head coach made his stance on the matter exceedingly clear.
“When the (NIL) rules get announced and this thing changes, we will be at the forefront and make sure we exhaust every single thing we can do to make sure our team and our athletic department is head and shoulders above the competition,” Lake said.
Nearly four months later, those specifics finally came to the forefront on Wednesday, when UW Athletics unveiled its “Boundless Futures” program — “a comprehensive personal, professional and leadership development program” designed to help Husky athletes benefit from yet to be passed federal or NCAA NIL legislation. The prospective changes will allow athletes to start and promote a business, be paid for sponsored content and endorsements, or sell autographs.
To navigate those waters, “Boundless Futures” will encompass curriculum through the Foster School of Business and a partnership with brand-building platform Opendorse.
Like Lake said, when the landscape shifts, UW will adapt.
“With the combination of this amazing university and world-class city, our students are well-positioned for success both in and outside of sport,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen said in a statement released Wednesday. “Our enhanced Boundless Futures curriculum, which includes new and further resources and infrastructure through our nationally renowned Foster School of Business, as well as our partnership with the personal brand-building platform Opendorse, show our commitment to helping our students chase their dreams in competition, and in life.
“We fully embrace NIL as part of the journey for our students at the University of Washington and know that the opportunities for them at the UW and in Seattle are limitless.”
With a top-15 media market, several Fortune 500 companies, the second-largest tech hub and 11th-largest metropolitan area nationally at its back, UW has plenty to offer from an NIL perspective. And, while universities will be prohibited from directly participating in NIL activity, it “can enable student-athletes to make connections and locate resources to support their endeavors and provide best-in-class education to equip them with the tools needed to capitalize on opportunities,” according to the release.
Washington plans to do that by offering courses — some for credit — that “explore the intersection of athletics and business, covering key NIL topics such as personal brand development and strategy, business and entrepreneurship, and opportunity evaluation.”
And a familiar face will be involved with that venture as well.
“We see it as an opportunity for students to not just benefit financially when they’re here, but learn some things about how they can do that through their lifetime,” Cohen told The Times earlier this month. “So we’ve created a partnership with the Foster School of Business on an NIL class that will be accessible for all of our student-athletes but also for non-athletes on campus. So I’m really excited about that.
“Coach Pete (Chris Petersen) will have some influence there as well. He was actually on the call the other day when I talked with students about name, image and likeness and other things that are trending in college sports.”
As for Opendorse, UW chose to partner with the athlete marketing solutions leader “to help UW student-athletes build and amplify their personal brands,” since NIL activity may be bolstered by an athlete’s social media presence.
Opendorse currently works with more than 30,000 athletes and touts an ongoing partnership with Clemson University as well.
“By joining Opendorse Ready, the company’s NIL readiness program, the UW will provide student-athletes with personalized assessment, education and performance tools to better understand and build their social audiences,” the release states.
All things considered, a university’s ability to enhance its athletes’ earning potential will undoubtedly become a critical aspect of recruiting in each individual sport.
And the Boundless Futures program may ultimately propel UW to the front of the pack.
“Boundless Futures connects the dots between where a student-athlete is, and where they want to be. NIL opens up more options for what those opportunities can look like,” UW senior associate athletic director for student-athlete development Kim Durand said in a statement. “It looks different for every student-athlete, so the path is customizable, and we want to provide resources that best fit each of our student-athletes.”