The Next Steps in NIL: Clemson's New Marketing Hub and Alabama's Team Store
Now that NCAA student athletes are free to profit from their name, image and likeness, major college sports programs have made marketing part of their recruitment efforts. Since the NIL revolution started, schools started advertising the ways they can help a student-athlete build their own personal brand, whether they have professional aspirations or not.
Clemson University, one of the biggest names in college sports, just created an enormous hub for NIL development: a 12,000 square foot office space dedicated to its "Reign" NIL program for student-athletes.
A lot of the Reign program will focus on things like content (videos, podcasts, photos, etc.), but tangible merchandise and promotional products will be included later on, too. There are few details on this so far, but according to Clemson's announcement, student athletes can create products like personalized jerseys, co-branded apparel, trading cards and more to market themselves while they're wearing the Clemson Orange and Regalia.
Clemson's program is fueled by its in-house marketing program, College Avenue Creative.
Just a few hours away in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the University of Alabama is also making moves to expand its student-athletes' NIL opportunities by creating a new team store within Bryant-Denny stadium, where the Crimson Tide football team plays.
The store, which Alabama is calling The Authentic, is part of a partnership with Fanatics. According to Saturday Down South, the store will supply "co-branded player merchandise such as customized Nike jerseys, game-used/autographed memorabilia and trading cards."
The next evolution in NIL? Alabama, partnering with Fanatics, is opening this season a “team” store within Bryant-Denny called The Authentic.
It will feature co-branded player merchandise such as customized Nike jerseys, game-used/autographed memorabilia & trading cards. pic.twitter.com/NnMOQU0nfq
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 25, 2022
“By taking advantage of the expanded breadth of Fanatics’ services, we have put our university and student-athletes in a position to maximize sales and brand exposure with Fanatics’ blue-chip family of brands, including Fanatics Commerce, Topps, and Candy Digital," said Greg Byrne, Alabama's director of athletics, according to Saturday Down South. "I think our fans will be fired up when they see everything come together inside The Authentic shop at Bryant-Denny, which we plan to open this season.”
Over the last year, plenty of big-name schools like UNC and UCF have implemented programs to assist their student-athletes with NIL programs. But this is sort of the first time we're seeing the results in action. Clemson's new building will be a physical reminder of the power of marketing and brand-building, and a dedicated store in one of the most important stadiums in college sports will certainly see plenty of demand for products like T-shirts and trading cards.
And if it works for Clemson and Alabama, you can be sure other schools will follow suit.