Utah Athletics, Lassonde Partner to Support Student-Athlete Entrepreneurs

Utah Athletics recently announced the launch of the Elevate U program to equip student-athletes with the tools and education to maximize their opportunity to profit from their name, image and likeness.

This innovative program, constructed in partnership with the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business and the nationally top 10-ranked Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, builds on Utah’s well-established Ute Academy student-athlete development program to empower, connect and protect Utah student-athletes as they build their personal brands and develop business opportunities.

“We’re very excited about what we have developed for our student-athletes with the Elevate U program,” said Mark Harlan, Director of Athletics. “For several months we have focused intently on the creation of this program, led by Deputy AD & Chief Operating Officer Charmelle Green, and we are very grateful for our partnership with the David Eccles School of Business and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to provide our student-athletes with expertise in building and managing their brand and pursuing business opportunities.”

Utah’s 500-plus student-athletes across all 20 sport programs are positioned to benefit significantly from their experience as students at one of the nation’s elite academic institutions located in the vibrant and fast-growing Salt Lake City market, capital city of U.S. News & World Report’s recently named best state economy.

“We are excited to partner with Utah Athletics to empower student-athletes to capitalize on their incredible branding and entrepreneurial opportunity,” said Taylor Randall, dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “The expertise from the Eccles School and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute will help guide student-athletes as they build their personal brand and better understand how to best profit from it.”

The pillars of Ute Academy, established in 2019, include a leadership and a mentor program, incoming student-athlete transition class, network nights and employer site visits. Bolstered by the innovation and resources of Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, these two anchors of Elevate U will empower Utah student-athletes to explore a multitude of opportunities and resources to build their brand and their future by learning how to create a sustainable business; learn brand management, creative marketing, leadership, and character development; and build strong and lasting personal brands.

“I am so excited about the partnership with the David Eccles School of Business and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute,” Green said. “Combined with our existing Ute Academy programming, this collaboration has been immensely helpful in our ability to create Elevate U, a comprehensive educational program for Utah student-athletes, that will equip them to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. This partnership is essential to our success, and I’m so excited for what the future holds for our student-athletes as they benefit from the creation of Elevate U.”

Elevate U also will connect Utah’s student-athletes to help them foster a thriving network to follow their passions and achieve their dreams. They will receive education about campus and community resources, obtain advice from notable Utah alumni and community members, and discover how to benefi­t from their ideas and talents.

In addition to being empowered and connected, student-athletes will be protected by gaining the resources and knowledge needed to maximize their earning potential; advance their business endeavors successfully within the complexity of rules and regulations; and gain valuable skills including negotiation, managing business information and ­financial literacy.

“Our student-athletes will have an opportunity, in this great community, to explore sponsorship deals and business possibilities, and profit from those endeavors,” Harlan added. “We will work very closely with them to educate and empower them with all of the tools necessary to succeed in this environment and maximize all of their opportunities. Being a student-athlete at the U. is a special thing, and the opportunity now to be a part of Elevate U significantly enhances their experience in this incredible community that supports them to grow as a person, as an athlete and in the development of their brand.”

Utah’s student-athletes also will continue to benefit from the department-wide partnership with INFLCR, empowering them with innovative technologies to utilize content delivered through the app to enhance their personal brands on social media and receive engagement and audience-building metrics that will bolster their business opportunities and valuation.

“The collaboration between our Elevate U working group and our partners from the David Eccles School of Business and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute has been inspiring,” Green added. “Bringing these groups together, and seeing the relationships that have formed along the way, has produced a powerful partnership that will stand the test of time and allow us to have success now and into the future for our student-athletes.”

What Utah’s Head Coaches are Saying about Elevate U

Kyle Whittingham, Football

“The University of Utah and the Salt Lake City area is a perfect environment for our athletes to thrive in promoting their brand through name, image and likeness. With the Elevate U program, our athletes will receive the tools needed to succeed, and we’re excited for the opportunities that our athletes will have to elevate their brand and their game to prepare them for their future.”

Lynne Roberts, Women’s Basketball

“Elevate U is a program that makes competing at the University of Utah a personal brand advantage for our student-athletes. The access and opportunities provided to our athletes by the University of Utah and Salt Lake City will be the best in the country. There is not a better place to be right now than at the U. Elevate U will be the engine that helps drive our talented student-athletes to where they want to go.”

Tom Farden, Gymnastics

“To build a brand for yourself and jumpstart your future is extremely valuable, and capitalizing off your name, image and likeness will provide countless opportunities for our Utah gymnasts to do just that. We are ecstatic for our student-athletes to be presented with even more opportunities to succeed during and after their collegiate careers. I am beyond excited for the Elevate U education program as it is the necessary stepping stone for our athletes to fully take advantage of many opportunities to come.”

Craig Smith, Men’s Basketball

“This is a special time in college athletics. I’m excited that our student-athletes will have the opportunity to monetize on their name image, and likeness as we move forward. Our industry is continually evolving and will always seek to enhance the overall experience of student-athletes. The University of Utah and our athletic department are on the cutting edge in all that we do. Elevate U is another example of being at the forefront of positive change. Elevate U provides our student-athletes the tools of leadership to help them grow and enhance their lives.”

Beth Launiere, Volleyball

“The Elevate U program is another example of the great leadership by our athletics department and the University of Utah. The U is always innovative in ways to enhance the experience of the student-athletes and our partnership with the David Eccles School of Business and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute will only enrich this program. Our student-athletes are worth the investment, and Elevate U will be a great asset to our incredible student-athletes’ growth as entrepreneurs.”

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