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New Bradley NIL program builds foundation for student-athlete partnerships

Renaissance Coliseum. Courtesy of Bradley University.

Just months after the Home of the Brave collective for name, image and likeness deals (NIL) launched for the Bradley men’s basketball team, more Braves athletes will hope to land similar partnerships thanks to a new marketplace.

The Braves Exchange is a new opportunity for eligible Bradley athletes to make themselves available and accessible to brands seeking to sign them to an NIL deal. The Exchange is part of Bradley Athletic’s BUild program, which educates Braves athletes in the realm of NIL along with providing assistance in finding brands to partner with. Illinois began allowing college athletes to earn compensation for their name, image and likeness on June 29, 2021.

“As college athletics continues to evolve, we need to provide education, resources, and opportunities to help the student-athletes navigate these changes,” the Bradley Athletic Department said. “The aim of the BUild program is to serve that purpose in the NIL space.”

Every school in the Missouri Valley Conference has partnered with INFLCR, which provides opportunities for NIL deals. However, the Braves Exchange is unique since not as many NCAA institutions have a program that acts as an extra arm to INFLCR.

“Our institutional partnership now adds additional educational resources and the Braves Exchange marketplace for student-athletes and supporters to connect and communicate with each other regarding potential NIL opportunities,” the department said.

The premise of the BUild program and the Braves Exchange is that Bradley athletes will be able to promote themselves in a portal where approved sponsors can make connections, and possibly strike NIL deals, with any Brave who is eligible to sign. Current legislation does not allow international student-athletes to sign deals with a brand if they are in the U.S. on a student visa.

Once an athlete becomes part of the Braves Exchange, they can download an app where their potential deals can be negotiated.

“As we strive to develop the leaders of tomorrow and champions in life, the BUild program will enable Bradley Athletics to support our student-athletes in this manner as they thrive academically, competitively and in the community,” Dr. Chris Reynolds, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, said in a release.

With large sums of money on the table in front of young adults, the financial process can be intimidating. It is crucial for college students to learn how to manage their money, but student-athletes have to deal with the hurdle of being compliant with NCAA and institutional regulations.

To facilitate ethical and smart decisions, the app for Bradley athletes offers education on financial practices, compliance and strategy on how to build their brand.

“Our goal is to continue building on the positive momentum surrounding Bradley Athletics and to be proactive and progressive in supporting our student-athletes as they navigate the continually changing NIL landscape,” the department said.

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