Last Updated on September 18, 2023
By: John Riker, Updated by: Kristi Dosh
We’re updating this post as we learn about additional academic programs.
From the facilities like the Clemson Athlete Branding Institute to team-wide deals, universities and collectives across the nation have been navigating the NIL space with a competitive edge typically reserved for the field, court or recruiting trail.
One recent trend gaining traction in NIL is the rise of academic certificate programs for name, image and likeness. On Wednesday, Troy University became the latest school to implement its own program in a partnership with the Troy University IDEA Bank. Student-athletes will have access to a Canvas course with modules to educate them on different aspects of NIL and help them maximize their opportunities.
“The new NIL landscape within college athletics allows student-athletes to lean into their entrepreneurial spirit, and we want to support that at the IDEA Bank,” Troy IDEA Bank Director Lynne George said in a press release. “We spent a lot of time building a well-rounded certificate program that will set students up with fundamental knowledge of how to approach and manage NIL while also providing unique resources and tips.”
How does Troy’s newly introduced program compare to others emerging in the NIL landscape? Here is what you should know about the leaders at the front of NIL education.
Troy’s NIL Certificate Program has two aims: first, to teach student-athletes about best practices within NIL and foster entrepreneurial spirit, and second, to provide resources to help those student-athletes put what they’ve learned to practice and succeed in the NIL marketplace. Upon completion, student-athletes will receive 1-on-1 counseling and be certified as student entrepreneurs, helping pave the way for future deals.
The modules available on the Canvas site for student athletes will be financial literacy and tax implications, getting started, NCAA compliance and personal branding and social media. According to Troy athletic director Brent Jones, the module will also include guidance on managing personal finances.
“The new NIL landscape within college athletics allows student-athletes to lean into their entrepreneurial spirit, and we want to support that at the IDEA Bank,” Troy IDEA Bank Director Lynne George said in the press release. “We spent a lot of time building a well-rounded certificate program that will set students up with fundamental knowledge of how to approach and manage NIL while also providing unique resources and tips.”
Arkansas State University
Arkansas State unveiled its name, image and likeness certificate program in early 2023, catering to both student-athletes and other Arkansas State students. Like Troy’s program, Arkansas State breaks its education into multiple courses: “Legal Issues in Sport,” “Sales Promotion and Sales Management” and “Strategic Visual Communication.” The program brings together the university’s Department of Communication, Department of Health, Physical Education and Sports Sciences and Department of Economics and Finance.
One difference is that along with student-athletes and students, the content is also produced for those in the NIL sphere who want to help student-athletes maximize opportunities, such as social media managers and compliance officers.
The certificate encompasses 15 credit hours and includes the following required courses:
- Personal Asset Management (FIN 2013): Financial assets as vehicles for saving for the future, investments in combinations of assets to meet financial objectives, and how the financial objectives will change over the lifespan of the investor.
- Sports Promotion and Sales Management (PE 3853): This course examines theories, concepts and research associated with sport consumer behaviors.
- Legal Issues in Sport (PE 4743): Students will examine legal issues as they relate to the law; liability; legal systems; and the rights of those involved in the sport, exercise and fitness industry.
- Strategic Visual Communication (STCM 3553): An advanced course focusing on the theoretical, contextual and practical natures of persuasive images in the context of strategic communication.
- Choice between:
- Social Media in Strategic Communications (STCM 4213): This course examines concepts and applications of social media within mass communications, news, advertising and public relations industries. We will explore and apply social media tools, integrating them into an organization’s overall communication strategy.
- Strategic Sport Communication (STCM 4313): A comprehensive examination of the field of sport communication, with a complete approach to the applications of advertising, public relations, and social media strategies in the context of sport communication.
“The program provides a means to empower athletes and those interested in helping collegiate athletes build and benefit from their brands,” Dr. Holly Hall, professor of strategic communication, said in a press release. “It is an opportunity for A-State students to potentially mesh in-class learnings with hands-on experience in an innovative area.”
Boise State University
Boise State will launch its NIL certificate program in Fall 2023, called a social media creator certificate and open to student-athletes and other interested members of the Boise State community. The certificate consists of three courses that will be available remotely in the fall, spring and summer semesters and focuses on social media engagement and brand strategy.
The certificate program builds on the Broncos’ strong NIL foundation, which won nationwide awards at the NIL Awards in 2022. Classes offered will include:
- Name, Image and Likeness: This course introduces students to key social media concepts, skills and tools for creating and delivering content that engages and persuades an audience. Students will also focus on developing strategies to identify opportunities for using name, image and likeness that are consistent with the brand and values.
- Creating Digital Value: This class investigates leveraging digital technologies and services such as user analytics and search engine algorithms in the development of digital value. Students will practice implementing digital information strategies to create useful, relevant and engaging social media content.
- Social Storytelling and Leadership: This course covers the ethical and effective use of storytelling on social media platforms for the benefit of a community. Students will practice identifying and using narrative elements to responsibly promote content that engages and inspires audiences. Topics will include characterization, thematic significance, identity development, types of content, shared purpose and brand voice.
All three classes will be offered fully online and can be taken independently without any prerequisites.
“Our thanks to Boise State Online and Dr. Roger Munger for moving this program forward,” Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey said in a press release. “This online certificate program provides the flexibility of digital learning for our student-athletes but is also open to anyone seeking skills to navigate today’s constantly-changing social media landscape.”
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas has announced an undergraduate certificate in name, image and likeness beginning in Fall 2023. The 12-credit hour certificate in its Department of Health, Sport & Exercise Sciences includes the following courses:
- Introduction to Sport Management (HSES 289): This course provides an overview of the field of sport management including the principles of leadership and management and the fundamentals of personnel management, financial management, marketing, strategic planning, sport ethics, sport law, time management, stress management, facility management, and event management applied to sport settings.
- or, Stand and Deliver (JMC 150): The ability to inform or persuade confidently through presentation is an incalculable skill no matter where students choose to direct their careers. This course introduces students to presentation approaches, effective oral communication fundamentals, audience analysis, support technologies and structural development. Students will assess their own communication styles and strengths, understand presentation purposes and types, research, edit and organize material, use graphics concepts and techniques to design formats for value-added content, and practice coherent, relevant and well-articulated stories. Students will apply what they learn in a variety of situations, from individual expository speeches to group business proposals.
- Foundations of Name, Image, Likeness (HSES 491): This course provides an overview of name, image, likeness (NIL) and personal finance. Students will learn about the process of monetizing a personal brand and learn about in-person brand monetization as well as the role of digital media and technology in the process. The course is focused on NIL, and the course is relevant to students interested in monetizing their personal brand and those interested in working with athletes, agents, and those who are interested in careers working directly with athletes or organizations that employ athletes.
- Athlete and Personal Branding (HSES 492): The purpose of this course is to provide students with the foundational principles of effective brand management. Students will learn not only the most prominent theories related to brand management but they will also examine the best practices in branding from some of the most successful sport and non-sport brands in the world. These principles will be applied to athlete brands and students will examine the branding techniques behind the most successful athletes across the world. Finally, applying the lessons learned from brands and professional athletes, students will construct their own personal branding marketing plan that they can apply to their professional lives for years to come.
- Content Creation in Sport (HSES 493): This course explores the emerging area of content creation in sport. Within the course, students will learn the technical aspects of designing a content creation platform, fan engagement, and brand development. Along with developing a working knowledge of the technical aspects of content creation, students will also review sponsorships, engagement analytics, and market assessments.
- or, Intellectual Property in Practice (JMC 670): For those involved with the creation, production, and/or management of media and creative products, understanding Intellectual Property (IP) law in the digital age is of critical significance. American IP law grants and protects creators’ property rights to encourage the production of creative works. This course provides students with the critical skills and knowledge to protect their rights and to avoid infringing upon the rights of others. In addition, the course will cover ramifications of recent technical developments and the courts’ evolving notion of what constitutes Fair Use.
These NIL certificates vary in distribution method, specific topics and components like one-on-one counseling, but each help position their universities’ athletes — along with other members of their school’s community — to make the most of an exciting and promising NIL landscape.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida announced its NIL Certificate Program in September 2023, aiming to educate college athletes, administrators, and parents on Name, Image, and Likeness to help them make informed decisions that best fit their careers.
Total NIL and USF Athletics have partnered for this self-paced, fully online program includes four modules:
- NIL 101
- Defining Your Brand
- Maximizing Social Media
- The Anatomy of an NIL Deal
The program is taught by Lauren Hoselton, the CEO of Total NIL, Mercedes Sapp, a coordinator for college athlete enhancement at USF, and Jon Schwartz, a sports executive and adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport.
The course is open to the public and costs $495.
“We saw a need to educate the people who are interested in NIL,” said Mark Koulianos, assistant vice president for university-community partnerships and the leader of the Corporate Training and Professional Education team.
“There is confusion among parents, coaches, student-athletes, and even athletic directors, he said. “This program is one tool in the toolbox to help student-athletes navigate the ins and outs of NIL, regardless of which sport they play – and whether they choose to attend a D1 school, a smaller private institution, or a community college.”
After completing the course, participants earn a Credly badge, an online certification for people to share their achievements and credentials.FeaturedNILNIL educationNIL news