A Pitt graduate from many, many years ago had been searching for a way to give back to the university for a long time before he came across Alliance 412’s soft launch at Pitt’s spring game Saturday.
In the immediate aftermath of the collective’s launch, he emailed Alliance 412 that they were exactly what he had been looking for. And he wasn’t alone, with people immediately popping up and asking when, where and how to get involved.
“So far, we’ve seen a really great response,” Alliance 412 chief creative officer Frances Reimers told PSN. “Obviously, until contracts are signed and things are put fully into motion, I can’t name companies or names or anything like that, but Saturday when we were in Pittsburgh for the spring game, and I posted some images from that. We got quite a few very interested and interesting opportunities. Very interested parties.”
Alliance 412 is a name, image and likeness (NIL) collective founded by Pitt graduate Chris Bickell, who donated $20 million to Pitt athletics in September, with the mission to, “connect University of Pittsburgh student-athletes, local and national companies, charitable organizations, and the community to create lasting and sustainable relationships that impact and benefit all.”
Bickell, Reimers and chief operating officer Jeff Goldberg have come together with the ultimate goal of providing Pitt student-athletes with NIL opportunities. And in the new age of NILs, it’s almost imperative for an athletic program to be able to stand a chance in recruiting with not just national superpowers like Texas, Alabama and Texas A&M but local foes like Penn State and West Virginia. But to also provide the student-athletes with chances at profiting off their success on and off the field.
Of course, Alliance 412 is not affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh nor Pitt athletics, but the two sides will work in cooperation. And Reimers has spoken to the diligence of the collective’s pursuit of compliance in navigating the NCAA rules and regulations around NILs.
Connect. Create. Care. Alliance 412 has officially launched and made its debut at the @pitt_fb Spring Game. To learn more, click the link in our bio. #thewinningmindset #h2p #NIL pic.twitter.com/SXmx16XtKH
— Alliance 412 (@Alliance_412) April 9, 2022
“I hope that Pitt student-athletes see this move as a huge moment for them,” Reimers said. “This is a massive undertaking for them, and I hope that they are excited and rally around this opportunity and see it as a benefit to them as Pitt student-athletes because it’s intended for them. So, I hope that it gets them excited, recruits that are considering Pitt, I hope that that definitely catches their eye and gets them excited. I think this is a huge step forward for the entire institution.”
Reimers, who is the founder of Firestarter, a brand consulting firm that has worked with collegiate and professional athletes and coaches for the last six years, and a Marketing Communications Consultant for Aaron Donald’s AD99 Solutions, was initially approached by Bickell and Goldberg when the pair realized they would need a creative partner to help build the look, feel and messaging of Alliance 412.
“So, (Bickell and Goldberg) brought me on as the CCO to help them grow the organization, but more importantly, help our sponsors and partners in the execution of their name, image and likeness opportunities, so that Pitt student-athletes, as well as these companies and partners, look their best,” Reimers said.
As the CCO, Reimers’ role is to help grow the brand of Alliance 412 and manage the creative relationships between Pitt student-athletes and any potential strategic partners — along with anything else that falls into the broad range of marketing and communications.
With the wave of NIL collectives popping up around the country for different athletic programs, Reimers said Bickell, Goldberg and herself have become well-versed in the NIL world. In Reimers’ own experience, she’s been helping to guide different college programs around NILs since before they were legalized a year ago. It’s a very familiar concept.
Alliance 412 is like any other new organization, requiring the basic key things to support an organization getting off the ground, and Reimers said it’s been fun in establishing the framework for that. It differs in the way that NILs are a sometimes complex issue in college athletics, and due diligence is required.
“The challenge is the same challenge that every collegiate athletic department and collective is facing is working out all of the legal obligations, the boundaries, who can do what, say what because it’s different from state to state, and program to program,” Reimers said. It’s just making sure that we’re establishing a framework that is completely transparent, completely compliant and is in the best interest of both the companies or partners and the student-athletes.”
Reimers said that a ton of current student-athletes from a multitude of sports have already expressed interest in Alliance 412, with All-American defensive tackle Calijah Kancey already securing an NIL opportunity with the Northside Food Pantry to provide support to seniors, veterans and hungry veterans.
“The student-athletes won’t be promoting our brand, per se,” Reimers said. “The objective here is to really make sure that we are bringing in the right business opportunities for these student-athletes. So, I feel our biggest challenge is making sure that the business community, alumni and other strategic partners are aware that this opportunity exists and it’s a safe, structured and compliant environment for them to engage student-athletes.”
With a whirlwind beginning for Alliance 412, Reimers is confident that excitement and attention will translate into continued growth. Since Saturday, there has been a steady stream of inquiries, and the collective is continuing to lay down a strong foundation.
While Alliance 412 is fresh to the market, Reimers already feels like the collective is ahead of others of its kind. But the work in continuing to build a website and strengthen organizational infrastructure will continue. It’s a sort of feeling out process initially in seeking out the best opportunities for partnerships and opportunities, how to engage, when to engage, etc.
“We want this to feel like an experience where businesses and partners are welcomed and that this is something that will continue on going,” Reimers said.