The age of the athlete as brand endorser without middle man, or agency is continuing to grow, and now it’s expanding even deeper into the intercollegiate world.
On Tuesday Conference USA (C-USA) took a pretty bold leap to show how their athletes can be effective ambassadors by becoming the first NCAA conference to invest into a broad social sharing initiative, this one with Lincoln, Neb., platform opendorse. Conference USA consists of 14 members: Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, UTSA and WKU.
“We fully realize the power of the social space for all involved, and the high engagement opportunities presented by our coaches, administrators, student-athletes and alumni,” said C-USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod in a statement. “opendorse is at the forefront of social space mobilization, and we are proud to create this landmark partnership with them for our member schools.”
This agreement will allow C-USA and member universities to share content on social with their entire athletic ecosystem —through the social channels of current student-athletes, athlete alumni, coaches, sports administrators, and university athletics accounts creating access and opportunities no other NCAA conference has been able to offer before. Conference USA will launch the partnership by using the opendorse platform to promote the 2018 C-USA Basketball Championships presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Performance Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Partner schools will use the opendorse content sharing tools with all interested parties to amplify their messages for events like postseason appearances, National Signing Day activities, March Madness, as well as for all on-campus and messaging events throughout the course of the year.
There will be a close balance struck for commercial endorsements in keeping with NCAA eligibility, but being able to amplify promotional messages, videos and important calls to action with not just one, but all the schools in social is a first for a large block of schools, after opendorse’s successful campaigns with individual institutions in recent years.
A partnership like this makes great sense for NCAA member schools whose growing alumni and student base is more socially oriented for news than ever before. Social sharing is a part of millennial DNA, and by using an effective platform like opendorse, which has relationships with thousands of athletes, brands and influencers, C-USA should be able to effectively amplify messages that may have gotten lost with traditional outreach.
“We’re passionate about helping the college space grow, as that is where our roots are, and are very pleased to welcome Conference USA into the fold”, added opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence in a statement. “With the rise of athlete-driven media, properties and brands are realizing the power of athletes as priority distribution channels on social. I’m thrilled that Conference USA and its partner schools have embraced this massive opportunity to amplify their message while helping their student-athletes and alumni build their brands on social.
This relationship with a conference is a first, and for opendorse, who is growing in buzz and scope with each passing week, it certainly won’t be the last as the athlete influencer continues to grow in stature.