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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette taking advantage of NIL to engage in Milwaukee community

Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) has been around for a few years but has most recently made an impact on the Marquette men’s basketball program, allowing its athletes to legally promote themselves and their products.

Marquette’s NIL General Manager Madison Dunker works at the forefront of the NIL operations with Marquette’s student-athletes. As general manager, she educates athletes and brands to make deals happen.

“The education consists of understanding how to prospect to pitch a brand, understanding industry standards for NIL, all the way through activation and how to be a professional from start to finish of an NIL deal,” Dunker wrote in an email.   

When it comes to contracting these deals, NIL allows players to engage in opportunities in the ways that athletes see fit them, as well as showcase the strengths and values they bring to the table. 

“We discuss personal branding and brand alignment quite a bit with the athletes, so they are picking brands to work with that align with their personal values and mission,” Dunker wrote. “The deals that occur when an athlete is engaged with a brand and aligns turn out to be the most successful partnerships.”

But, per the NCAA regulations of NIL, because Dunker is university representative, she cannot suggest athletes companies that they should work with, she can only speak with players about their NIL ambitions.

Companies have the ability to reach out to the university about specific athletes, but the university cannot initiate contact between specific players and brands.

This summer, Marquette gave both scholarship and non-scholarship athletes the opportunity to sell officially licensed NIL merchandise through the Marquette NIL Store. Athletes can be supported by fans all year, when their merchandise is worn. Fans can get jerseys, sweatshirts, t-shirts and more with their preferred player’s number.  

“I think it is a great passive opportunity for them and great for our athletes to be able to see family, friends, and fans with their name on the gear,” Dunker wrote.

Along with the NIL Store, Marquette student-athletes work with the Be The Difference NIL Collective, which was founded in May 2022. The program is a Wisconsin registered 501c3 non-profit that works with nonprofit organizations, such as Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Marquette has also partnered with Milwaukee Buck Pat Connaughton’s foundation.

But individual athletes have also been able to partner with different companies in order to personally promote themselves.

Aside from doing TKO Miller Investment Banking commercials, senior guard Tyler Kolek has worked with Milwaukee’s Who’s On Third Sports Bar, which allowed people to get the limited-time “TK Burger.” Junior guard Kam Jones also started a Cameo account offering to record personal videos for fans for money. Senior forward Oso Ighodaro secured a deal with Nadi Plates, a full-service Italian food truck in the Milwaukee area. 

“It’s been great just to be able to partner with local businesses,” Ighodaro said after the Blue and Gold Scrimmage. 

As general manager, Dunker advises athletes to think about the NIL for their long-term careers. She wrote it is beneficial for them to consider their future career opportunities as well as larger partnerships in order to brand themselves.

“Right now, athletes are reviewing and negotiating contracts, networking and other professional skills for NIL deals,” Dunker wrote. “These are the same skills that they will use when they leave Marquette, no matter what they do post-graduate.”

This article was written by Raquel Ruiz. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @raquelrz15.

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About the Contributor
Raquel Ruiz, Sports Reporter
Raquel Ruiz is a first-year student from Mundelein, Illinois studying digital media and is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing volleyball, volunteering in her local community, spending time with friends and family and binge-watching tv shows. She is excited to learn from different people and explore what it is like to be a journalist in the media field.

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