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The Varsity Collective Launches Two Podcasts in Collaboration With Amaze Media Labs

Wisconsin legends Sam Dekker, Joe Thomas and Annie Thomas will lead the podcasts, which aim to give fans an inside look at Wisconsin athletics.

Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen (0) runs through a tackle durning a game. (Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire)

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

The Varsity Collective, the University of Wisconsin donor- and alumni-led NIL collective working on behalf of Wisconsin Badger student-athletes, announced the launch of two signature podcasts hosted by some of the most notable Wisconsin Badger athletes of the past.

Varsity Beat” will be hosted by former Wisconsin basketball standout Sam Dekker (2012-2015), and “Badger Bigs” will be hosted by 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist and Badger football great Joe Thomas and his wife, former Wisconsin women’s soccer player Annie Thomas. 

“Being a student-athlete at Wisconsin was a transformative time for both Annie and me, and it’s amazing to connect with the next generation of Badgers experiencing that magical time for themselves,” Joe Thomas said. “Badger Bigs is an incredible way for fans to get to know their favorite Badgers on a deeper level than just what they see on the court or field.”

“No matter how far I am from home, I’ll always be a Badger,” Dekker said. “Varsity Beat brings that idea to life. I can’t wait for people to tap in with us and listen to some great conversations with some big names of the past and present.”

The first episode of the Varsity Beat features Wisconsin basketball freshman basketball phenom Connor Essegian and Badgers Hall of Famer Jordan Taylor. Badger Bigs’ first episode was released earlier this month, starring football defensive lineman Keeanu Benton and former Badger basketball player Brian Butch. 

As name, image, and likeness landscape continues to evolve, the skill of developing a personal brand long after your college athletics career becomes more valuable. With the launch of Varsity Beat and Badger Bigs, The Varsity Collective is strengthening the relationships between University of Wisconsin athletes, both past and present. Further, future podcast episodes will star new head football coach Luke Fickell, and national championship-winning volleyball player Devyn Robinson just to name a few. 

“The Varsity Collective’s podcast network is a prime example of the unique opportunities we’re continuing to create to maximize the NIL success of everyone who wears a Badger uniform,” Rob Master, executive chair of The Varsity Collective, said. “We hope that with every new episode, more charities, businesses and individuals will see the incredibly exciting possibilities of partnering with Wisconsin student-athletes.”

Varsity Beat and Badger Bigs podcasts came to fruition through a collaboration with Amaze Media Labs. The New York, NY-based media company has developed a strong reputation for stories of some of the most well-known global brands. 

“Podcasts are a perfect space for student-athletes to tell stories in a meaningful way, and through Varsity Beat and Badger Bigs, The Varsity Collective is going where no other NIL collective has,” said Robert Tuchman, co-CEO of Amaze Media Labs. “We’re proud to help provide Wisconsin student-athletes a microphone to tell their story, create deeper connections with their fans, and build their brand for success throughout life.”

With The Varsity Collective becoming the first NIL collective to launch featured podcasts, we can anticipate them identifying and activating more opportunities for athletes to leverage content creation to develop their brands.

Stay up to date with the launch of athlete podcasts and paid guest series through the Business of College Sports podcast tracker.

Author

  • Darian Kelly

    Darian is an Interdisciplinary Studies Master's student at the University of North Texas. Darian is the host of The Jersey Podcast. He is highly passionate about sports content, technology, and innovation.

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