Mizzou Athletics Partners With Journalism Students to Form NIL Branding Program

University of Missouri Athletics and the Missouri School of Journalism have collaborated to enhance college athletes’ name, image, and likeness brand potential.

Led by Brandon Lee, the Assistant Athletics Director for NIL at Mizzou, the fall semester pilot program involved 18 college athletes and 37 journalism students. Athletes voluntarily worked with strategic communication students, conducting interviews, auditing social media, and receiving customized playbooks for content creation and optimal posting. Many students came from Professor Jon Stemmle’s public relations course, and others associated with Mizzou’s Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter.

How the Program Works

The process began with students conducting comprehensive interviews with the athletes, delving into their interests, passions, and personalities. An audit of the athletes’ social media platforms followed, examining content production, types of content, posting frequency, and follower count. Armed with this information, the journalism students presented the athletes with a customized social media playbook, offering guidance on content creation and optimal posting times. A business pitch featuring potential companies for NIL partnerships was then developed to maximize the athletes’ earning potential.

Euphenie Andre, an All-American Mizzou track and field athlete, and Abigail Klapatauskas, an honors communication student, exemplified the success of this collaboration. Klapatauskas helped Andre reposition her Instagram account to target her desired audience, resulting in a significant increase in followers, engagement, and a subsequent NIL contract with a hair care product. The strategic focus on producing targeted Instagram reels proved effective, as evidenced by a 90% increase in followers and a 200% rise in engaged accounts within the project’s time frame.

Mizzou’s School of Law Gets Involved

Beyond the Mizzou Athletics-School of Journalism partnership, the School of Law and the Office for Financial Success have also gotten involved in the comprehensive approach to NIL. Law students will now review contracts, offering legal guidance, trademark filings, and personal liability protection. Jim Green, the Director of the Office for Financial Success, has worked to provide the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, offering tax preparation assistance for college athletes with NIL contracts. This initiative recognizes the financial implications of NIL earnings and aims to guide athletes in fulfilling their tax obligations.

Mizzou’s holistic approach underscores its commitment to supporting college athletes in the evolving NIL landscape. The program’s success establishes a foundation for future collaborations, with Mizzou serving as an innovative model for universities nationwide.

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