University of Kansas Athletics Director Travis Goff on Friday announced the launch of a new department program designed to help KU athletes navigate their newfound ability to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness.
Called Jayhawks Ascend, the program is the first public effort KU has made regarding name, image and likeness deals since new NCAA interim rules took effect July 1 — allowing athletes for the first time to earn an income from sponsorship deals and endorsements without losing their collegiate eligibility.
In an email to Williams Education Fund supporters, Goff described Jayhawks Ascend as a four-tiered effort to enhance and provide assistance to an athlete’s college experience, while also preparing them for what comes after college.
The first tier, Goff said, is personal brand advancement, which will allow athletes to partner with “best-in-class companies” to help facilitate NIL deals. Athletes will have social media training and access to one-on-one brand building sessions and brand identity training. KU, the email said, has also entered partnership agreements with three companies that focus on collegiate athletes: INFLCR, Athliance, and Opendorse.
As part of Jayhawks Ascend, Goff said KU athletes will also be protected from NIL risk through educational efforts on income disclosure management, financial literacy and compiling accurate yearly tax reports. The program will also rely on KU resources in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and School of Business to “assist with student-athlete NIL activities,” the email said.
Finally, the fourth tier of Jayhawks Ascend will focus on arming all KU athletes with tools for success after they leave the university, Goff said, through tax education, help with forming an LLC, and learning entrepreneurial basics.
“This is an inspiring time in college athletics, and we have the parameters in place to educate and empower our student-athletes,” Goff said. “As a department, we look forward to sharing additional materials in the future with local businesses, donors and partners to educate everyone on the opportunities that will present themselves in this space.”
It remains unclear what specific rules KU athletes must follow in terms of NIL deals they enter into. The state of Kansas has no law on the books regulating such agreements, so any oversight is up to individual schools and athletic departments.
In response to a public records request from the Times in mid-July for KU’s policy for athletes on name, image, likeness, the university said it had no responsive records, and there appears to be no NIL policy in Kansas Athletics’s online policy guide.
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