After the long-awaited decision by the NCAA to finally approve athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness, Pitt announced the launch of its very own program to help the athletes build their respective brands, called Forged Here.
While in the beginning everyone is going to try and get as many deals as they can, Pitt head coach Jeff Capel thinks now is the time to take a step back and truly understand what the new NIL rules mean.
“I think the very first thing is for everyone to get a better understanding of what exactly it means,” Capel said. “It’s an exciting time for college athletics and especially for the student athletes, but I think it is really, really important to become educated on what exactly it means. That’s on us as a program, as an athletic department, and the people that we have here at Pitt, that we’ve put together here at our athletic department and university to help educate these guys on what possibilities can come about for them.”
Now, from July 1 on, Pitt athletes as well as athletes around the country will be looking to maximize their individual profits by landing advertising deals, building their social media pages, and more. For Capel, a leader of his entire roster looking to build their brand, he is looking to help them out in any way that he can, while also making sure that their eyes are still on the main goal: to win.
“I want to do everything I can to put these guys in the best possible position to be able to profit off of their name, image, and likeness,” he said. “At the same time, we need to win, I can tell you that. They’ll be able to get more if we win, so that’s still the main objective for me… One of the things that I will say to the guys, is look, your brand is still made between the lines. That’s how you become good, is in between the lines. You’ve got to be good. So stay in the gym, keep working, don’t let the pursuit of just money and capitalizing on that get in the way of education and becoming really good at what you do.”
With these deals comes uncertainty, as the NCAA has never before allowed anything like this. Like many coaches around the country, Capel wants to make sure his guys know what they’re getting into and understand all possible implications and consequences.
“If you make a deal, what happens if you make a deal with a company, or corporate, or whatever, and you don’t play well? They snatch the deal,” Capel said. “It’s all these different things that you don’t know about. If you get hurt, what does that mean for the deal? If all of a sudden you’re not playing, what does that do? Do you transfer because you feel like, II’m not getting an opportunity to increase my brand?”
In the end, Capel will have his guys’ backs. After a year full of uncertainty and frustrating NCAA decisions, he is going to encourage his players to take this one slow and make sure they understand everything about it before diving in.