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UNC First to Allow Alumni to Profit from Merch Sales

Paul Steinbach

Name, image and likeness legislation is popping up all over the country and promising to provide compensation to current collegiate student-athletes. But what about those whose playing days have passed?

The University of North Carolina is believed to be the first school in the nation to establish a marketing agreement in which famous sports alumni will get a cut from the sale of newly produced merchandize bearing their names.

As reported by Inside Carolina at 247sports.com, the multiyear agreement with marketing and licensing agency The Brandr Group (TBG) creates a voluntary group licensing program that will allow UNC to produce and sell merchandise that bears the name of former star athletes, including men's basketball alumni from the past four decades and women's soccer stars from multiple national championship teams who have already agreed to participate.

The list of early signees includes Mia Hamm, Heather O'Reilly, Hubert Davis, Sean May, Marvin Williams, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Buzz Peterson. Additional alumni from both programs are expected to join, and former UNC student-athletes from other teams may be added in the future. The timing of merchandise rollout is yet unclear.

"Our [former] student-athletes will be able to sell their jerseys, Carolina in the front, their name and number on the back. Carolina [and the athletes] will share in the revenue," UNC director of athletics Bubba Cunningham said. "This group licensing program is a way for us to extend our relationship with them – to provide more opportunities to former student-athletes, even long after they leave the University – while allowing fans to remember and recognize them, as well."

The program will seek group licensing opportunities in apparel and non-apparel categories and maximize creative co-brand development, according to Inside Carolina. TBG, which has industry-leading experience creating and managing similar programs with the NFL and NBA players associations, is working closely with the university and its licensing partner, CLC, to identify prospective licensees. Only companies that utilize group player programs with three or more former Carolina student-athletes will be able to participate in the group licensing program.

"As a former player, being a part of a group licensing program like this is an amazing opportunity for me, and my fellow alums, to stay connected with the University that we love," said May, a current member of UNC's basketball staff and the 2005 NCAA tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "North Carolina Basketball has always been about family, and having a program like this that former players want to be a part of shows why this place is so special."

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