Unlike more traditional athletic department roles like communications and compliance, there’s no playbook for how a personal brand coach should operate.
So what does a day in the life of a Division I personal brand coach look like? And what will Rooney’s program include?
While athletes are off campus for their June break, Rooney is giving athletes their first bit of homework: Compile lists of goals for their brands.
Rooney will then start both one-on-one coaching sessions and group “classes” that will teach them how to build and convey their brands on social media. The program will start with basketball players and then expand to other sports.
“Some of them want to start podcasts,” Rooney said. “Some want to become trainers, coaches, start doing consulting business, events, etc. There’s a full gambit of opportunities they want to take advantage of.”
And when NIL rules take effect, they’ll finally be able to pursue these opportunities.
Strategies for Different Sports
The basics of brand development are the same. But the most advantageous routes for athletes to capitalize on NIL depends on their sport.
Athletes playing the more “high profile” sports like basketball may want to focus on endorsements, Rooney said. Athletes in Olympic sports like swimming, however, could see major opportunities in starting camps or gyms.
The big wrinkle, of course, is the date nationwide NIL rules will finally take effect. Several state NIL laws will start July 1, but plans for a federal bill remain up in the air.
In Pennsylvania, where Duquesne is located, there’s NIL legislation on the table with a 2021 start date. But the legislature still hasn’t passed a law yet.
The NCAA said it plans to vote on its own rules during June 22-23 meetings and will hopefully put them into effect by July 1. That’s probably the best bet for Duquesne athletes getting their NIL rights this year.
Rooney thinks the mess of legislation is creating the biggest roadblock for departments who don’t have anyone focusing on NIL on staff. They “aren’t in a position where they can be aggressive — but athletes 100% will be the second they can.”
But despite the uncertainty, Rooney isn’t too concerned about his own curriculum. “I’m able to be agile,” he said. “I’m able to quickly pivot and figure out how to best make things work.”