Bryant-Denny Stadium will host what is claimed to be a first-of-its-kind hub dedicated to the name, image and likeness (NIL) endeavours of University of Alabama athletes, as part of an extended multimedia rights relationship with the Learfield agency.
The new 15-year contract, one of the longest and most integrated in college athletics, builds on the traditional components that have encompassed the relationship since 1998 with several new strategic initiatives.
One of these will be the NIL hub, entitled The Advantage Center, which will serve as the epicentre of support for the efforts in this field of the more than 600 Crimson Tide student-athletes. The concept of NIL deals is relatively new in the college sport space, with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in July opening up a new frontier by formally allowing student-athletes to sign commercial agreements utilising their name, image, and likeness rights.
Learfield and Alabama Athletics will collaborate on the development of the Center to provide a physical home and team of dedicated staff offering education and resources for student-athletes with respect to NIL opportunities, as well as a location to showcase successful local and national NIL relationships.
Director of athletics, Greg Byrne, said: “Learfield is the industry leader in cutting-edge fan engagement and brand connectivity. Continuing to partner with Learfield will provide us with the resources and innovative solutions to deliver on our mission of providing the best student-athlete and fan experiences possible.
“The new NIL center and plans for exciting new content for our fans are just a few examples of the ways in which Learfield will continue to help us be the leader in college athletics for years to come.”
The Advantage Center will seek to build on the initiative started by Alabama Athletics in May 2021 to educate and provide the tools necessary for Crimson Tide student-athletes to build and elevate their personal brands.
The new facility will be located in Bryant-Denny Stadium next to The Authentic, UA’s retail store developed in association with Fanatics through a deal struck last year, which provides NIL opportunities through branded licensed merchandise.
According to Sports Illustrated, the Advantage Center is expected to include the likes of a digital ticker announcing the latest news in athlete deals; a studio with a green screen to provide athletes a place to shoot NIL-related videos; a wall dedicated to Alabama player NIL deals and opportunities; and a meeting space to help aid brand-and-athlete relationships.
Learfield president and CEO, Cole Gahagan, said: “To me, it was only a matter of time before we began to build an infrastructure around NIL. This is the next big step in that direction.
“There’s no company better situated than ours to facilitate NIL. We are connected to over 10,000 brands nationally and locally. We are in the best position to bring those brands into the ecosystem to help create relationships between companies and athletes.”