Published: Nov. 10, 2020 By

Evan Battey signing autographsMen’s basketball’s Evan Battey (Jour’22) envisions a career in sports broadcasting when his playing career is over — and the gregarious “Mayor of Boulder” would be a natural on camera.

Yet, how can he and other athletes capitalize on their fame while they are still students? A first-of-its-kind CU program will help. 

In April, the NCAA decided to advance legislation. If approved, it will allow student-athletes to profit on name, image, and likeness (NIL) starting with the 2021-22 academic year, CU Athletics launched Buffs with a Brand to educate students on personal branding, entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy. 

The program will help Buff student-athletes like Battey navigate compensation from third-party endorsements, social media opportunities, personal appearances and businesses they start.

Lauren Unrein, assistant director of leadership and career development, coordinates the voluntary program, which is open to all current student-athletes in CU’s 17 intercollegiate sport programs. 

“Prior to the NIL decision, so many students would talk to us about wanting to start their own companies,” Unrein said. “We wanted to give them the opportunity to learn how to be entrepreneurs.”

Evan Battey celebrating Beginning this fall, participants will meet remotely once a month. Erick Mueller, faculty director of entrepreneurial initiatives at the Leeds School of Business, will lead the hour-long sessions. Entrepreneurial mentors will work directly with students who will also participate in a branding program designed by Jeremy Darlow, best-selling author of Brands Win Championships. 

“It’s doing and acting versus just talking about it,” Mueller said. 

Students may craft a hypothetical business or one they intend to capitalize on eventually, such as a sports camp or apparel company. However, Buffs with a Brand will focus more on long-term success than immediate capitalization.

“It’s unlocking and unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit already within them,” Mueller said, “[and] giving them the confidence to say, ‘I can do this.’”

Photos courtesy CU Athletics