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West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown has said he wants to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to upcoming name, image and likeness legislation from the NCAA. He’ll continue that quest as the Mountaineers are the first football team to use a new program.

WVU announced Thursday that it is part of the pilot program for an NIL data services offering from company INFLCR (pronounced “influencer”). Several NCAA teams have signed on to the pilot program, including teams at North Carolina, Kentucky and Marquette, but WVU is the first football team involved. The data services program is the first component of INFLCR’s NIL Suite.

Brown has a history with INFLCR. When he was at Troy in 2017, his football team became the company’s third client. That relationship moved as Brown moved from Troy to WVU.

“Our mission is really the ‘why’ of our program,” Brown said in an interview on the INFLCR website, “and that’s to serve and develop what we call total Mountaineers. INFLCR has helped us serve and develop our players.

“We’re a players-first program,” he added. “We’ve looked at the numbers just like you have, and what our players have been able to do on their social media platforms, and the voice they have developed has been incredible.”

According to the company, the data services program will help WVU in two ways. It will help the football coaches to remain compliant with NCAA regulations when recruiting players under the new NIL rules. It will give players the metrics for their social media platforms to maximize their personal brands and get the most they can out of the new NIL rules.

“It’s the same thing we talk to our players about — tell your story,” Brown said. “Don’t let someone else tell the story for you. We always talk about what do you want to be about, who do you want to be, who are you trying to be. What are your future goals? Then let’s develop who you are and the story you’re telling for your future goals.

“So that’s how we try to teach our players. I think that’s important. That’s their voice.”

Contact Derek Redd at 304-348-1712 or Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.