West Virginia signs deal with brand consultant ahead of college athletes' potential ability for endorsements

Yahoo Sports

Expect a lot of schools to follow West Virginia’s lead as NCAA members prepare for their athletes to be able to get sponsor and endorsement income.

WVU’s football team announced Thursday that it had signed a deal with brand consultant Jeremy Darlow to help educate players on personal branding. The announcement comes in the wake of possible name, image and likeness changes by the NCAA to allow players to make money from third parties throughout their college careers.

"Our football players will be learning how to build their own brand from a person who wrote the book on the subject and is an individual who has worked with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment," West Virginia coach Neal Brown said in a statement. "We're excited to provide that level of expertise to our players."

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The NCAA hasn’t finalized any changes to its current rules that prohibit players from making money off their own images while they are still college athletes. But a January vote is expected to approve the changes that were recommended in April.

The NCAA said in its own recommendations that the rise of social media helped fuel its changed position on third-party financial involvement. After all, if regular college students could make money as social media influencers, why can’t athletes? Per West Virginia’s statement, the arrangement “between WVU Football and Darlow will give each player the ability to recognize and grow his influence, target and identify his potential audience and develop strong communication platforms.”

"What we did was try and get in front of this," Brown said. "It's about education and educating our players on how to take advantage of that. What is a brand? What does it look like?"

We’re still waiting to see what the official NCAA rules will look like too. While the recommendations put forth by the NCAA are sweeping changes from the status quo, members of the NCAA’s working group tasked with making those changes have admitted that there’s still a lot to figure out between now and when they could begin at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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