Las Vegas company helps college athletes build their personal brand
Mon 6 Dec 2021 (2 hrs)
A Las Vegas company is getting into the promotion and marketing of varsity athletes, and a number of UNLV players are already taking advantage.
A local car dealership pays rebel basketball players a monthly allowance for transportation, and a Strip clothing store provides free wetsuits for UNLV football players.
The Company, Blueprint Sports, and Player Benefits were made possible by a National Collegiate Athletics Association rule change this year, allowing athletes to receive compensation for marketing agreements based on their name, image and likeness.
“We made the strategic decision to focus on athletes first,” said Blueprint Sports founder Cisco Aguilar. “The way to do it was to work directly with the athletes rather than becoming an official partner of a sports department and then serving the athletes.”
Although it was incorporated last year, Blueprint launched operations in October.
The company, which has a dozen employees, works with varsity athletes from UNLV and other Western schools, such as UCLA, Southern Cal, Utah and Loyola Marymount University.
The most important feature of Blueprint is that it functions as a “digital marketplace” for athletes and businesses to choose from different opportunities, said Aguilar, businessman, lawyer and former member of the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Each player on the UNLV men’s basketball team has a sponsorship agreement with Findlay Automotive Group for a monthly “transportation allowance” of $ 500.
In exchange for the money – which players can spend on anything from paying for a car to Uber or Lyft fees – they must take a financial literacy class and agree to make appearances at a car dealership. Findlay.
Aguilar said Blueprint is working on a similar deal for members of the UNLV women’s basketball team.
In another case, some UNLV football players are in a sponsorship deal with Maceeo, a high-end men’s clothing store in Aria.
Tre Caine, a senior defensive back, and other players involved in the deal will get bespoke suits worth around $ 1,800. The idea is for players to wear the costumes during their college graduation ceremonies.
In exchange for the clothes, football players were also required to agree to take a financial literacy course for graduate students.
Nancy Lough, professor, marketing expert and inter-varsity and professional sports management coordinator at UNLV, said allowing players to take advantage of marketing deals is generally a good thing.
College athletes are part of a coveted young adult demographic, often attractive to business, she said. If an athlete has a lot of social media followers, it could make them even more marketable, she said.
“These athletes could potentially build a brand that could have longevity, so that’s very positive from that point of view. It could also present challenges. We haven’t seen this yet because it’s all so new, ”she said.
Since the NCAA rule change, a number of companies like Blueprint have sprung up, some working directly with college athletic departments.
With experience working for Adidas and tennis megastars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf and their many charitable endeavors, Aguilar said he has the knowledge to be successful in a track and field based business. He was legal advisor to the Agassi and Graf management company and to the Andre Agassi Education Foundation.
It was Steve Miller, CEO of Agassi Graf Holdings and friend of Aguilar, who believed in Blueprint from the start.
“He told me that I was on to something, and it kind of went from there,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar said he wanted to focus Blueprint on the task of capitalizing on what he believes to be a sports marketing gold mine in Las Vegas.
“Over the past few years, Las Vegas has grown into a major sports market,” said Aguilar. “I wanted to focus almost entirely on Las Vegas to prove the model and solve any problems we might have. Our goal is for athletes to be able to access our platform to take advantage of out-of-the-box offers. “
To do this, the company first had to “knock on doors” for support from local businesses, Aguilar said. This is essentially how the agreement with Findlay Automotive was made.
“The Findlay deal was a real test for our system and if we can achieve it,” said Aguilar. “We have a team that has been together for about three months, and we have to make sure that we can perform at a high level. We have high expectations and hope to partner with more companies. That’s the point.
The Aguilar company has also partnered with Logic Commercial Real Estate and is targeting some of the biggest names in Las Vegas business, such as MGM Resorts International and other hotel companies with a strong presence on the Strip.
Over time, Aguilar said, he would like Blueprint to function as a marketplace where a business owner or athlete could simply browse through available opportunities with little or no help from a company representative.
He’s also considering players potentially volunteering their time for private appearances, like an UNLV baseball player hosting a hitting clinic at a youngster’s birthday party.
“If we perform like we were in Las Vegas, we can grow taller,” Aguilar said. “There is a natural progression to success. “
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