CHAMPAIGN — University of Illinois athletes have a new, collective avenue to profit off their names, images and likenesses.
UI athletics is the latest college to partner with The Brandr Group to establish a group licensing agreement for its athletes.
Students across all of the UI’s varsity sports can opt in to the agreement, allowing for their collective use in a variety of business deals co-branded with Illinois marks and logos.
“Fans can expect to be able to purchase official Illinois merchandise, including team jerseys with the name and number of their favorite Illini players who have joined the respective group licensing program once TBG enters into agreements with applicable school trademark licensees,” Illinois athletics wrote in announcing the deal.
Brandr manages the group rights programs for the NFL, NBA and MLB players associations and their interactions in the college space.
The agency has pounced on name, image and likeness opportunities once they became legal this summer and now represents the athletes of 27 different colleges, including Nebraska, Ohio St., Michigan St., Purdue and Maryland.
Group licensing agreements make scaled-up products — like jerseys with names, trading cards and potentially video-game appearances — easier to negotiate, since companies wouldn’t have to hammer out terms with each individual athlete.
The main products that Brandr has helped college athletes bring to market so far are jersey T-shirts, or “shirseys.”
Licensed through each school’s athletics program and players, some of the shirseys already available include ones with the names and numbers of Gonzaga men’s basketball players and the likenesses and nicknames of Alabama football players, to name a couple.
“Co-branded apparel is responsible for a significant portion of the overall sports apparel market,” athletic director Josh Whitman said.
“This is a breakthrough opportunity for our student-athletes to pair their name, image and likeness with Illinois trademarks, allowing for the creation of valuable co-branded items that will enable our fans to represent their favorite players in new and exciting ways.”