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UW Athletics Embraces NIL With Boundless Futures Program

Jun 30, 2021

SEATTLE – Today, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved guidance that will allow prospective student-athletes and student-athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) in business activities beginning July 1. 
NIL will create opportunities for student-athletes to work towards their goals in their lives and careers, in and out of competition, and UW Athletics is excited to support them in this endeavor by further elevating internal resources and by strengthening existing campus partnerships, including one with the Foster School of Business, via the student-athlete development Boundless Futures ® program.
Since 2018, UW has been developing Boundless Futures, a comprehensive personal, professional and leadership development program designed to provide student-athletes with tools, training and education needed to build leaders in life and in the workplace. Boundless Futures now encompasses additional programming designed to help student-athletes pursue the new avenues created by NIL legislation.
"Our University community has been strategic and collaborative so that Husky student-athletes will be able to hit the ground running when it comes to NIL," said Director of Athletics Jen Cohen. "Our department's core purpose of providing holistic development opportunities for our students has always been why we exist, and this commitment is why the UW is a perfect environment for students to thrive in the NIL era."
Boundless Futures combines UW's extensive alumni network and the Seattle and Pacific Northwest business community to provide student-athletes with practical experiences and connections. Though universities will not directly participate in NIL activity, the UW environment will enable student-athletes to make connections and locate resources to support their endeavors and provide the tools needed to capitalize.
The addition of NIL-related aspects to UW Athletics' Boundless Futures program was necessitated when it became clear that a new array of opportunities for college athletes were on their way.
With the UW campus located in the heart of the city of Seattle – one of the world's foremost hubs of cutting-edge business and technology – open doors for Washington student-athletes are even more widespread and progressive than on most college campuses.
Located in the No. 11 economic market (by gross metropolitan product) in the U.S. – one that boasts headquarters for many of the best-known tech companies in the world – the UW is uniquely positioned to help athletes seize once-in-a-lifetime NIL opportunities, from sponsorships to entrepreneurship. Seattle is the second-largest tech hub and the 15th largest metropolitan area in the United States. It's also home to a robust and impressive alumni network; because a large majority of UW graduates stay in Washington, connections that students make while at UW remain relevant long after graduation.
"Supporting our student-athletes has always been the primary goal at the University of Washington, and that no different when it comes to providing assistance with regard to NIL," said UW Athletics Chief Operating Officer Jason Butikofer. "A lot of work and cooperation has been done to make certain that UW is prepared from the start to offer top-level resources and guidance."
A key aspect of Boundless Futures is its partnership with the UW's Foster School of Business. Students can participate in a series of courses to explore the intersection of athletics and business, covering key NIL topics such as personal brand development and strategy, business and entrepreneurship, and opportunity evaluation. This partnership allows students to participate in the rich entrepreneurial ecosystem in Seattle and learn from Foster faculty who are experts in sales, marketing, management and entrepreneurship, and depending on the course, will be offered for credit.
"In a competitive world – on the fields and courts, in academics and in life after graduation – it's important for student-athletes to have resources at their fingertips," Butikofer said. "It's our job to make sure those resources are world class."