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Nebraska Athletics Partners with Opendorse to Promote Student Athlete’s Brands

In a savvy move designed to help recruit athletes to become a Husker, the athletic department will support athletes in building their name, image and likeness brand

Northern Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

At the press conference yesterday, Scott Frost indicated that there would be a major announcement from the university regarding name, image and likeness (NIL) for student athletes at Nebraska.

Today we have that announcement.

Every single student athlete at Nebraska (650 according to the press release below) will have access to Opendorse, a platform for athletes to market their personal brands. It is no surprise that the athletic department chose to work with Opendorse, a platform that was founded by former Husker athletes Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic. Many former Huskers have worked with the company in building their brands and earning some income for promoting different products or events.

I think this is a pretty savvy move on the recruiting front. It will give Husker coaches an attractive pitch to families that are looking out for the future of their kids. Other universities are sure to follow, but being among the first (if not the first) to do this allows Nebraska to claim a spot as a leader in looking out for their student athletes’ futures. Paired with the extensive academic support at Dear Old NU, this makes for an attractive landing spot for recruits and especially for the parents who often heavily influence where those recruits sign.

This was inevitable and instead of being reactive this was an athletic department which has decided to be pro-active as members of the Nebraska Legislature have introduced their own NIL bill in the legislature. It appears that the athletic department has been doing their own form of “lobbying” to try and get this done.

If anything the announcement of this partnership with Opendorse merely puts more pressure on members of the unicameral to take the necessary steps forward.

Nebraska needs all of the advantages it can get and this is a great opportunity for them to get out in front of something everybody else can see coming.

Here is the statement from the Athletic Department:

LINCOLN, NE – The University of Nebraska and Opendorse announced today the launch of the first-ever program designed to help student-athletes build their individual brands. The program will provide all 650-plus Nebraska student-athletes social media solutions with proven effectiveness at the highest levels of professional sports.

“Nebraska has always been a leader in college athletics,” Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said. “With that spirit in mind we are excited to partner with Opendorse. This agreement will provide all of our student-athletes the education and assessment tools they need to navigate the complexities of social media and maximize their brand in the digital world.

“As a father of a current Division I football player, I have a good understanding of how important social media is in the daily lives of our student-athletes. The ability to educate and assist our young men and women in this particular area is mutually beneficial for Nebraska and our student-athletes.”

To provide its student-athletes with the best possible readiness tools, Nebraska has partnered with athlete marketing platform Opendorse to launch the Ready Now Program.

The Ready Now Program, powered by Opendorse Ready™, provides three core pillars to student-athlete success: Assessment, Education, and Performance – tailored to assist each individual athlete.

Founded by Nebraska Football alumni Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic, Opendorse has become a proven market leader in helping sports organizations and their athletes prepare and execute social media programs to increase the value of their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). More than 10,000 athletes currently use Opendorse to maximize their value in collaboration with partners on social media. Opendorse has partnered with the NHL, NFLPA, PGA Tour and others while brands like Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and EA Sports also use the platform.

“We’ve been preparing for this moment for over seven years,” said Blake Lawrence, opendorse CEO. “Coach Frost and the Nebraska athletic administration understand the time is here to empower student-athletes to prepare their individual brands for future success.

“The Ready Now Program is here to help Nebraska student-athletes maximize the value of their brand with tools and services that have been proven at the highest levels of sports. As change inevitably comes, Opendorse is prepared to comply at scale – adapting our technology to ensure compliance just as we have for partners at dozens of players associations, leagues, and governing bodies.”

Nebraska football student-athletes have long been among the most recognizable and marketable individuals in college sports. The Ready Now Program is a great fit for the program as college athletics continues to evolve.

“We believe social media is at the core of this next frontier for player development,” Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost said. “There’s an opportunity for our players that transcends compensation today – we as coaches and leaders can provide our student-athletes the tools to maximize their future value while they’re competing for the University of Nebraska.

“Regardless of what change comes in NIL legislation, we want every Nebraska athlete to be prepared with the blueprint for success beyond the field. With Ready Now and the unrivaled passion of the Husker fanbase, I believe a current student-athlete’s brand can be considerably more valuable at Nebraska.”

The passion for Nebraska Athletics extends well beyond the football field. The Nebraska volleyball program has led the nation in attendance for the past seven years, and members of the volleyball program are among the most prominent and recognizable student-athletes on campus.

“I applaud our athletic administration for implementing this program for all student-athletes, not just those in football or men’s basketball,” Nebraska Head Volleyball Coach John Cook said. “Nebraska is one of only a few schools where a young woman has a great opportunity to build her brand locally, regionally and nationally while competing in college athletics. This partnership is the latest example of the University of Nebraska’s commitment to provide student-athletes with all the needed resources to maximize their time in Lincoln. There is No Place Like Nebraska!”

Men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg is completing his first season at Nebraska. In addition to six years as a collegiate head coach, Hoiberg has 19 years at the NBA level, including playing, coaching and front office experience

“One of the reasons the NBA is so popular today is the work that players have done in building and marketing their personal brands. I witnessed that first hand during my time in the league. This is a great resource that the University of Nebraska is providing for its student-athletes. The earlier we can help our young men and women understand the value of their personal brand, the better positioned they will be for whatever professional path they choose.”

About the Ready Now Program

The program will offer each student-athlete with a current valuation of their brand, review and flag content that could have a negative impact on a student-athlete’s brand, and provide insights to increase their individual social value. Ready Now will provide ongoing student-athlete education with performance benchmarks, content calendars, and set-up with social strategy sessions. Finally, the program will help each athlete perform to the peak of their ability on social media. The program will allow the Huskers to maximize the value of their brand now and be best-prepared to benefit if future legislation allows them to do so.

About Opendorse

Opendorse is the social publishing platform designed to help the world’s most influential athletes and individuals post with a single tap. Today more than 10,000 athletes around the world Opendorse to publish content from partners including the PGA TOUR, NHL, NFLPA, MLBPA, WNBPA, LPGA, over 100 professional and collegiate sports teams, and hundreds of brands.

The platform is purpose-built to help athletes make the most of their moment and to capture this massive opportunity alongside the organizations they’re connected to. From All-Americans to All-Pros to CEOs – when important people share content on behalf of their partners or organizations – they share it through Opendorse.