Name, image and likeness opens door to personal and professional growth
Diagnosed with Marfan syndrome as a child, Langston Wilson was unable to play organized sports growing up. Years of pickup ball and perseverance paid off when he finally received medical clearance as a 19-year-old. Nearly on the brink of quitting the sport, a standout performance in junior college helped Langston earn a spot on the UW Men’s Basketball team.
“The deodorant brand Degree loved Langston’s story for their ‘Breaking Limits’ campaign,” shares Jamaal Walton, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration and Strategic Initiatives. “Langston exemplifies perseverance, and this partnership allows him to inspire others on a much larger scale while also receiving compensation and mentorship opportunities.”
Wilson’s partnership is just one example of student-athletes utilizing their name, image and likeness (NIL) while at the UW. Released in 2021, the NCAA policy allows student-athletes to take advantage of various opportunities from those attributes. This includes being compensated as social media influencers, brand ambassadors, athletic camp mentors, selling autographs or starting their own businesses — as long as the activities are within the bounds of their respective state laws.
Even within this new landscape, Washington Athletics continues to prioritize the holistic development of student-athletes. “Imagine being 18 or 19 years old, even in your early 20s and navigating this new world of NIL — worrying about deals and branding, marketing and finances,” explains Walton. “Our goal is to prepare our student-athletes so they have the skills to be successful in all areas of their lives, including in this new era of NIL. Classes like ‘The Business of Name, Image, Likeness And Personal Brand in Sports’ are just one way that we do so.”
“The NIL program at UW gave me a chance to create connections with professionals and organizations,” shared Women’s Soccer alumna Olivia Sekany. “The skills I was able to practice through NIL activities will be beneficial to my career long after I hang up my cleats, and I am immeasurably grateful for the support I’ve been given by the UW NIL staff along the way.”
Student-athletes also have access to powerful resources such as Opendorse, Montlake Futures and the 1861 Foundation, which allows them to connect their own passions with brands to benefit communities. Opendorse provides a platform to showcase profiles and services that can be viewed by potential partners. Montlake Futures and 1861 Foundation are independent, donor-supported nonprofits. Both organizations help UW student-athletes leverage their platforms to serve the community and pursue their philanthropic passions through involvement in athletic camps, ambassador programs or other initiatives.
Through Montlake Futures, UW Baseball catcher Johnny Tincher volunteered with “Shoes That Fit” to deliver athletic shoes to local elementary school students.
UW Men’s Soccer alumnus Lucas Meek used his NIL to raise funds to fight ALS in honor of his grandfather, who had the disease. And UW Football tight end Devin Culp worked with the 1861 Foundation to organize a Football camp at his high school in Spokane. These student-athletes are just a few who have used NIL partnerships to positively impact their communities.
Walton envisions a bright future for student-athletes when it comes to NIL opportunities. “We want to continue to evolve because NIL has also evolved. Just like we have the best academic staff and best sports medicine team, we want to be the best at this — it’s what our student-athletes deserve.”
He is also impressed with how donors have embraced NIL. “Our donors are Husky-faithful; they care for our student-athletes above all else and are willing to go the extra mile, even in this new world that we are all navigating.”
Interested in contributing to NIL or any of its programs (Opendorse, Montlake Futures, 1861 Foundation or UW’s NIL class)? Visit GoHuskies.com/NIL or reach out to Jamaal Walton at 206-543-4611 or email@example.com.