Gonzaga Athletics introduced its “Next Level” Name Image and Likeness program Thursday. It’s intended to provide the education and resources necessary to build student athletes’ personal brands and prepare them for the NIL era, the athletics department announced.
The department said “Next Level” looks to emphasize five key areas: personal brand management, financial literacy, business and entrepreneurship, social media, and NIL legislation.
Working with campus partners and outside organizations like INFLCR, the leader in athlete brand-building, the program aims to help student-athletes take advantage of their name, image and likeness for their own benefit.
“With the NIL opportunities coming in the near future, I am excited that we are giving student-athletes a real chance to build their brands,” GU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Mark Few said. “I’ve been a big believer in the NIL movement, and I’m proud that we can start helping our players capitalize on their potential.”
The GU basketball programs are coming off a historical program. The men’s team had its second NCAA championship appearance in school history, headlined by a thrilling 93-90 win against UCLA in the Final Four, which reached a peak of 18.8 million viewers, KXLY.com reports. The Zags reached the No. 2 ranking in total social media engagement in the country after their tournament run.
The women’s team also saw success as they came off their fifth straight West Coast Conference regular season title and reached their highest national ranking in school history, getting the No. 10 ranking from the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll. The program also made its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history last year, KXLY.com reports.
The Next Level programming will be created by industry professionals in collaboration with Gonzaga’s Athletic staff members, and additional partnerships will be announced in ahead of the 2021-22 academic year. Basketball programs will have individualized education in Next Level’s five areas of focus to help reach their maximum potential of capitalizing on their national scale.
“This moment is an important one for our student-athletes,” Gonzaga Director of Athletics Mike Roth said. “It’s exciting that we can empower them with the NIL legislation. Our Next Level program will be a great tool to educate the student-athletes.”