Purdue Players Aren't Letting NIL Opportunities Become a Distraction to Football, Education

The Purdue football program is providing its student-athletes a support system to allow them to take advantage of their name, image and likeness. Despite the freedom to pursue deals, the Boilermakers remain focused on their performance and studies.
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INDIANAPOLIS — Name, image and likeness is changing the landscape of college sports. For the first time, student-athletes across the country are taking advantage of opportunities both big and small to profit.

Purdue football has prepared its players for the chances lying in wait not only in West Lafayette, but in the state of Indiana and beyond. Yet, despite unprecedented freedom, the Boilermakers are not prioritizing money ahead of the 2021 season.

“We’re going to focus on school first, then football and then everything else when you have time," Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis said during the 2021 Big Ten Football Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium. "The theme is that if you take care of everything on the field, everything off the field will take care of itself."

At first, players didn't have any idea what was going on or how to navigate through the evolving landscape. The changes were a cause for pressure as big-name student-athletes were signing lucrative deals while others were only be exposed to local opportunities.

Back in May, Purdue athletics announced the launch of an immersive brand-development program called EMPOWER. The university, in a partnership with the Krannert School of Management and industry leader INFLCR, will provide student-athletes with education, resources and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Inside the Purdue football program, the team sat its players down for multiple educational sessions to help them better understand the process of using name, image and likeness effectively.

"I think it’s great that all players now can profit from their name, image and likeness," Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. "I think they understand that how they play on the field and how they carry themselves off the field is going to dictate that. From our standpoint, it’s good to see guys that want to take advantage of it as much as possible."

Purdue wide receivers David Bell and Jackson Anthrop, among others, have already benefited from the recent NCAA policy changes. Both players have partnered with The Shop Indy, a vintage-inspired sports apparel store based in Indianapolis.

Anthrop said the company was nothing but helpful in the process, and he's making sure his peers are being smart about their decisions, too. He stressed the importance of ensuring that businesses have only the best interests of the player and their future in mind.

“I told our guys, especially our young guys, don’t let this get in the way of your school work and what you’re doing right now," he said. "If you start worrying about getting a couple dollars for tweeting something out, you’re probably not going to be very productive on the football field."

Both Anthrop and Bell aren't actively scouring for deals to make money. Instead, they're working to better themselves in the classroom and on the football field while passively letting opportunities come their way.

“I feel like we all came to whatever university we picked to play football and go to school. And I feel like with name, image and likeness, some cats can get off the radar and off the ground on why they’re really at college. People go chase the money, but the rest of us are trying to prepare for the next team or prepare for the next game.”

As more college players venture to sign deals related to their name, image and likeness, their college programs will continue to back them through education and other support systems.

“Just being able to have people that are there to help you along the way is huge," Anthrop said. 

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