West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown is following through on his plan to help his players navigate the NCAA’s coming changes in name, image and likeness marketing rules, enlisting the help of a consultant who already has worked with several major Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
WVU announced Thursday that the football program will partner with Jeremy Darlow to help players develop their skills in growing their personal brands. Darlow already has worked with programs like Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, while also helping individual athletes like Lionel Messi and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Such help is beneficial for the Mountaineers. The NCAA Board of Governors recently endorsed rule changes that will allow student-athletes to seek endorsement opportunities.
“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,” Brown said in a news release. “We’re excited to provide that level of expertise to our players.”
Earlier this spring, Brown said he and his staff had spent the last six months devising a plan to assist their players in this new landscape. He surmised that, being the only Power 5 program in the state and having no professional teams to compete with, WVU student-athletes would be very marketable within West Virginia’s borders.
WVU will be just the second Power 5 school to be admitted into Darlow’s athletic brand development program. In the program, players will build their own marketing plans and learn the same techniques used by Darlow, author of the books “Brands Win Championships” and “Athletes Are Brands Too.”
Players will watch a short video lesson each week covering one of Darlow’s brand-development philosophies. Then those players can complete an assignment found in Darlow’s book “The DARLOW Rules.”
“Today, more than at any other point in history, athletes have the opportunity to build personal brands that transcend the sports they play,” Darlow said in the release. “Thanks to the exposure and influence offered by social media, these young men and women can now control their own brand destiny.”
Darlow is the former marketing director for Adidas Football and Basketball, and also a former brand manager for Widmer Brothers Brewing and Ubisoft.
“My mission is to teach athletes how to create a personal brand and reputation that sets them up for life after sports,” Darlow said. “I’m proud to work with West Virginia, which believes in preparing their student-athletes for life after college.”
The partnership is part of Brown’s “5th Quarter Program” for his players, which helps develop the entire student-athlete. Subjects include character development, leadership development, social responsibility, career development and real life, where the branding component is found.