New personal branding course educating BYU student-athletes on business in the time of NIL

Class teaches principles of success for life beyond college athletics

PROVO, Utah – Oct 27, 2021 – BYU Athletics made headlines this summer with program-wide Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals brokered for the football team and all female athletes. Now they’re working with BYU’s world-class Marriott School of Business to take the next step in NIL innovation.

Every Wednesday evening this fall, more than 100 BYU student-athletes representing every one of BYU’s 21 athletic programs attend a new BYU Marriott course centered on personal branding in the NIL age. The 2.0-credit class instructs student-athletes on opportunities available to them now while also educating them for long-term career success.

“We’re trying to continually thread the theme of personal branding, how important that is, and how choices being made today can affect them for years to come,” said Gary Veron, Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Experience. “We want them to know how to strike when it’s hot, but to not compromise your values and yourself in the process of chasing the almighty dollar.”

This summer, a landscape-shifting NCAA rule change allowed student-athletes to benefit financially from their name, image and likeness. BYU Athletics was prepared for the moment, launching the Built4Life program in June to help student-athletes in developing critical life skills toward monetizing their personal brand under NIL changes.

Then, in August, BYU garnered national attention when an NIL deal with Built Brands was announced between the company and over 120 student-athletes from the football team. The football student-athletes were compensated between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on the deal they entered into.

And last month, a $2 million NIL deal with SmartyStreets was announced wherein each female student-athlete will be compensated up to $6,000 for work performed and level of contractual agreement between SmartyStreets and the respective student-athlete. The new Marriott School course is another step in helping set up BYU student-athletes for long-term success in the NIL space.

“The class has been eye opening in educating us about all the businesses that exist here in Utah,” said student Ben Bywater, a starting linebacker with the football team. “I’ve enjoyed learning how different brands use social media to promote their products, and their advice on how to use social media has been extremely helpful.”

The brainchild of Veron and Associate Dean of Students Trevor Wilson, the class was made possible by approval and support from BYU Marriott Dean Brigitte Madrian and BYU Advancement Vice President Keith Vorkink. Taught by business and ethics professor David Hart, the class exposes the student-athletes to entrepreneurial concepts and case studies while also featuring a good mix of cameos from successful business leaders.

“We’re making them think about life, business and careers in ways that they’re not currently thinking about,” Veron said. “We want them to chart their own course here, and this class helps them connect what they’re doing now with how that will impact their future. It’s one piece of the Built4Life program, but it’s an important piece.”

Plans are in place to have a section of the class for Winter 2022, and to offer it each Fall and Winter semester going forward. This semester roughly 60 percent of the class is male and 40 percent is female.

At the end of this semester, the class will do a Shark Tank type of competition where students will take the insight they’ve gained to create an pitch a viable business model to a panel of judges. Those judges will include Dean Madrian, BYU Career Services Director Jodi Chowen and Lendio CEO Brock Blake, an alum who donated $10,000 towards the final project.

Between now and then, the class will feature a tax expert to outline the tax implications of NIL money, local business owners to detail how NIL opportunities might look and even a visit from a Utah Supreme Court Justice to offer a unique perspective on career planning and management.

“A lot of the students have entrepreneurial ambitions, but we didn’t want to make the class just about that,” Veron said. “That’s why we have a number of experts coming to talk about a variety of subject matters. It’s our first go around, so we’re still learning and growing.”

Associate AD Gary Veron addresses student-athletes in the new personal branding and entrepreneurship course.
Associate AD Gary Veron addresses student-athletes in the new personal branding and entrepreneurship course. Photo by BYU Photo.
Built4Life logo
BYU's Built4Life program helps student-athletes in developing critical life skills toward monetizing their personal brand under NIL changes.

Media Contact: Todd Hollingshead (801) 422-8373
Writer: Todd Hollingshead