UCLA quarterback Chase Griffin has developed a blueprint for capitalizing on name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.
How NIL Deals Shape Student-Athletes
During an interview with AfroTech, Griffin sheds light on how the fairly new landscape has helped student-athletes understand their worth on and off the field.
“It gives athletes, especially this new generation of athletes, the ability to control the narratives surrounding them,” Griffin explained. “There are athletes everywhere, whether it be speaking out about initiatives that are near and dear to them or portraying their personality in ways that are authentic to them, in ways that aren’t really shaped or guided by the administration or coaches.”
He continued: “So, when you look at NIL — I think the overarching effect of it is one that promotes equity and inclusion. The athletes who are taking full advantage of this, not only are we able to earn some money and build brand relationships, but for the first time, are able to freely convey ourselves to the public and realize our own value while we are still in college.”
Donating A Portion Of NIL Deals To Charity
Griffin is leading through example by using his platform for the greater good. While NIL deals can be a cash grab for student-athletes, his charitable gestures also demonstrate the importance of being rooted in causes that matter.
As AfroTech previously told you, Griffin launched an initiative named NIL For Good. That means for every NIL deal he secures, he donates a portion of his earnings to charity. In an Instagram post, he announced over $22,000 had been donated to causes the LA Regional Bank, Move United, and Hutto Education Foundation, among others.
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“As a Christian, I feel compelled by my faith to give and to be in a position where I’m on scholarship and I’m earning money,” Griffin said. “I consider it a blessing to be able to be generous and to give a piece of all of my NIL deals to various initiatives. My main partner is the LA Food Bank. I grew up with friends with some growing up with food insecurity, and to be able to help children in the LA area who deal with some of those same issues that some of the people around me dealt with growing up, it’s a huge blessing.”
Griffin added: “I think that same practice is an educational opportunity as well because it teaches me how to be not only smart with my investments or whatever I earned through NIL, but smart in making the biggest impact possible with how much I can give.”
To date, Griffin has secured over 30 NIL brand deals, which also include Shell, Discord, Boost Mobile, and Chase.
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The number of companies he holds a partnership with is large, but he does not take this responsibility lightly. Griffin says that when evaluating potential partners, it is his Christian faith and the determination of whether a company adds economic or community value that guides him.
“I always go off of value system. As a believer, a winner and a provider, I look for other brands that match those similar values,” Griffin expressed.
LinkedIn's Creator Accelerator Program
Gaining a head nod from Griffin is LinkedIn’s Creator Accelerator Program (CAP). According to its website, the initiative supports creators interested in technology and innovation through a six-week program. Participants receive guidance from the LinkedIn team and additional resources such as “a financial award and early access to LinkedIn tools to start conversations, build engaged communities, and connect to meaningful opportunities on the platform.”
Griffin sees the value of the accelerator as it instructed him on how to build his professional network and develop a habit of sharing content regularly.
“The best thing that I got out of the Creator Accelerator Program with LinkedIn was that the sheer number of posting not only bolstered my account on to where I got a lot more followers and learned more tricks, but I got in the habit of posting four times a week,” he said. “Those weeks were really a test but also helped continue to forge my ability as a content creator and producer.”
Furthermore, the company played a crucial role in Griffin’s career beyond the program, paving the way for his first NIL deal made possible through a connection at Unilever, Degree’s parent company.
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“He actually reached out to me after seeing my story on LinkedIn and sort of prompted me to put my name forth for this first campaign they were doing called the ‘#BreakingLimits’ campaign. It ended up going very well and pretty soon after that, Shell reached out.”
He added: “People who are gonna end up paying you, hiring you in the talent space, in the production space for the most part are on LinkedIn and are active there.”
His Message To Student-Athletes
What’s more, Griffin suggests all student-athletes should strike while the iron is hot. Statistics from the NCAA show less than 2% of student-athletes will play at a professional level across all sports. For this reason, it is particularly important to position yourself for success after college.
“It’s important to remember as athletes, whether or not you’re making money in NIL, that’s a four or five year journey,” Griffin told AfroTech. “Whether or not you go play pro, even if you’re Tom Brady, you’re playing for 20 years and after that you still have half your life ahead of you. In the professional world, LinkedIn, right now is the best networking tool while you’re still a student and it works best while you’re still a student. Some of the messages or cold calls or texts that you send out while you’re a student might get a reply in a way where if you weren’t a student anymore, they wouldn’t be as receptive.”
He continued: “So, take advantage while you’re still in school and build out a network where you connect with your classmates who are gonna end up starting unicorn level businesses. Or, you yourself are able to put your business dealings on a platform where people who can really affect you positively in that space can see what you’re doing.”
Professionally, Griffin is a student-athlete executive in residence at Uniworld Group and also holds a position has an athlete creator in residence at Range Sports, a division of cultural capital firm Range Media Partners.
He is also the founder of the Be11eve Brand, “a brand for believers, winners & providers worldwide.”