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Cal Announces Program to Help Athletes Benefit from NCAA's NIL Ruling

Bay Area should offer endorsement opportunities to high-profile Golden Bears athletes. It could become a recruiting tool.

Cal announced on Thursday a program that it hopes will enable its athletes to take advantage of the NCAA’s interim policy allowing college athletes to financially benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

Cal calls it the Golden program and says it provides “a comprehensive set of resources for student-athletes to build their brands and take advantage of new name, image and likeness legislation at the country’s No. 1 public institution.”

The university notes in its announcement that the Bay Area offers a substantial number of endorsement opportunities for college athletes, putting Cal athletes in a position to benefit from the NCAA’s Wednesday ruling. Nearly 40 Fortune 500 companies are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. You might imagine that this could become a recruiting tool.

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers has already cashed in with an endorsement.

The NCAA's policy will overlap with the California state legislation on NIL, which is called the Fair Pay for Play Act and is scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2021. It is similar but not identical to the NCAA's NIL policy.  

(For details on the NCAA’s NIL policy, click here.)

(For details on California's Fair Pay for Play Act, click here.)

Cal officials say the Golden program features several primary components:

---World-class resources available at the University of California, Berkeley, including a partnership with the Haas School of Business.

---Use of Innovative Cameron Institute for Student-Athlete Development.

---A department-wide agreement with INFLCR, a mobile app that allows athletes to post photos of themselves playing in games on their social media feeds.

--A means to capitalize on Cal’s alumni network and access to industry leaders in Silicon Valley and beyond.

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“We’re excited to launch our NIL program, GOLDEN,” Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton said in a statement provided by the school. “The University of California, Berkeley has always been an amazing place for young men and women to build their brand and launch their careers. With the new NIL legislation in place, GOLDEN will help provide additional tools for Cal student-athletes to capitalize on their value in the marketplace in a distinct Cal way that builds on their achievements on the playing fields, in the classroom and in the community.”

Cal officials said the Golden program was assembled by an NIL Working Group, whose task was to consider how best to support athletes, to monitor the landscape and to explore options prior to the implementation of the new legislation. The committee included athletic department staff, current and former Cal athletes, coaches and faculty members.

“Participating in Cal's NIL Working Group that is developing the infrastructure and support for our current and future student-athletes has been fruitful,” Lorenzo Alexander, a Cal defensive lineman from 2001-04 who played 14 NFL seasons, said in a statement released by the school. “I’m pleased by the diversity of the group and the perspectives being shared with the intent of how to best serve our students. It is still early in the process, but I look forward to the enrichments and resources we’ll continue to develop through our partnerships with the Haas School of Business, the School of Social Welfare, and the Cameron Institute. The GOLDEN program will help Cal student-athletes define their values and find NIL opportunities that align with those values.”

Elijah Hicks, a starting safety on the current Golden Bears football team, provided this statement:

“I have been fortunate to represent Cal student-athletes on the NIL Working Group to help implement NIL at Cal. The group developed the GOLDEN program to help student-athletes maximize what they can make using their name, image and likeness. NIL will allow me to expand my brand by partnering with companies that have similar values as mine, such as intercepting poverty for struggling college students.”

Hicks talked about the new opportunities on NBC Bay Area.

(For the complete Cal release, click here.)

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Cover photo of Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton and Bars football coach Justin Wilcox is by Kelley L. Cox, USA TODAY Sports

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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