The Brandr Group and the University of North Carolina launched the first-ever group licensing program for current student athletes today, as first reported by SportsBusiness Journal. This program builds on the early success of the partnership the two formed for an Alumni Group Rights program earlier this year.
UNC student athletes will be able to voluntarily join the group licensing program, which will allow them opportunities to pair their NIL rights with UNC’s official trademarks and logos. Under the program, UNC student athletes can be marketed in groups of three or more within a single sport, or six or more across multiple sports. Student athletes who participate in this program are still free to market their NIL rights in other ways individually.
“This is an outstanding opportunity because it will allow our student-athletes to benefit, together, with our trademarks and logos – and to have more choices and chances to collectively benefit from their NIL,” said Bubba Cunningham, UNC’s athletics director. “I have long supported the group licensing concept because it can positively impact so many student-athletes. I’m proud that Carolina is the first program to support college athletes, past and present, through group licensing.”
The Brandr Group has experience creating and managing similar programs with professional player associations. It will work adjacent to the school’s licensing agency partner to identify potential licensees—which would include apparel companies, video games, trading cards and more—and ensure student athletes are getting fair market rates. Student athletes will receive a portion of the net revenues from cobranded programs and can continue to participate as alumni since the alumni program has already been established.
“We are incredibly excited to be able to bring these new, previously untapped opportunities to current UNC student-athletes through this historic program,” said Wesley Haynes, founder and president of The Brandr Group. “Our company was founded on the development of group licensing programs for the college market. To now represent the lifecycle of athletes from college to professionals to alumni puts us in a position to maximize opportunities for many of these athletes on a group basis.”
This news should excite fans, because these are exactly the kinds of programs that need to exist in order for the popular NCAA Football game to return from EA Sports.
“Group rights is the way opportunities like video games and trading cards get done,” said Haynes. “It is impractical to negotiate with every athlete individually for these types of opportunities.”
Asked if group licensing will benefit student athletes in Olympic sports, Haynes says they’re already seeing early interest.
“We already seeing tremendous interest in women’s soccer at UNC as just one example. We expect to see interest in Olympic sports, particularly where schools have a strong tradition in those sports. So, we do think ultimately this will help Olympic sports over time as well.”
UNC may be the first, but they certainly won’t be the last to work with a partner like The Brandr Group to give their student athletes access to group licensing.
“We are currently talking with 30-35 schools,” said Haynes. “We expect this announcement to significantly accelerate interest from other schools. We think the path of athlete group rights in conjunction with school IP is the right approach and the opportunities it creates is what fans, licensees and sponsors want.”
This piece was originally published on Forbes.
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