WACO, Texas (KWTX) - This month marks the one-year anniversary of the NIL (name image likeness) era in collegiate sports.
There’s been lots of controversy surrounding NIL at the university level, however, a new program exclusively for Baylor student-athletes is promising to bring positive outcomes for the students while also trying to boost the local economy.
“We’re thrilled as a non-profit to launch this program, to launch something that I think is very different than what I’ve seen out there around the country, and to launch something that I think can be very powerful both for our community and for students,” said Jon Passavant, CEO of Startup Waco.
On Wednesday, Startup Waco launched GXG (green and gold) Exchange, a new program designed to give Baylor student-athletes Waco-centered NIL opportunities.
“This is something for us that has been close to a year in the making, it’s taken a lot of time to understand the general landscape around the country and how we could best play a part,” said Passavant. “We asked ourselves: ‘well, why under these new rules, when student athletes can now engage business opportunities, would we not engage them with the opportunity to help start businesses here in Waco?’”
Since July 1 2021, student-athletes across the U.S. could start financially benefitting off their name, image and likeness.
“Every state has different rules, so this not something that Baylor University can be affiliated with or is doing, so they really needed for it to be appropriate partners to step up and say ‘hey, we want to help see these athletes be able to thrive in this,’ and we feel like our mission as a non-profit was really uniquely suited to provide that,” said Passavant.
Passavant says GXG is a ‘win’ for Waco-area businesses and an even bigger ‘win’ for student-athletes who are business-minded.
“As an entrepreneur development organization, we can help take these student athletes, help take their business ideas, take what they’re doing and help apply them, not only to the greater Waco business community but also to businesses that they may want to start themselves,” said Passavant.
Startup Waco launched a pilot program in June with the Baylor Men’s Basketball team.
“We had all the guys here in our co-working space downtown, and we basically talked to them about ‘here are the opportunities that are now in front of you, and so we would love to hear from you--what does this instigate in you, what is it that you want to start or something that you want to do? This is a platform that you can now leverage,’” said Passavant.
Officials at the non-profit say supporting student-athletes in this way, through partnerships with local businesses and organizations, will help pave the way for future growth in Waco.
“We’re looking long-term that this could be something that really cements the Waco business community into this landscape of student athletics, and really ultimately helping the business community and the student athletes rise together,” said Passavant.