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December 3, 2021

Nebraska Business Provides Accelerate for Student-Athletes

NILbraska Helps Maximize Name, Image and Likeness Potential
Nebraska Business Provides <em>Accelerate</em> for Student-Athletes
The College of Business collaborated with Nebraska Athletics and colleagues across campus to offer Accelerate, one part of #NILbraska. Created to help student-athlete’s maximize their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) potential, Accelerate features business, entrepreneurial and strengths-based education, coaching and advising, along with interdisciplinary offerings created through campus partnerships.

When Nebraska Athletics introduced #NILbraska, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln three-part initiative to prepare student-athletes to maximize the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation, they did so by utilizing teamwork. Recruited to provide Accelerate, the College of Business developed the program to assist more than 650 student-athletes identify, strengthen and activate their NIL potential.

“Nebraska is leading the way in NIL and Accelerate helps prepare students by sharing our business, entrepreneurial and strengths-based education. We are leveraging our distinctive offerings at the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Clifton Strengths Institute, as well as interdisciplinary curriculum created through campus partnerships while also working on new efforts to benefit students long term,” said Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance. “In addition, Accelerate showcases Nebraska as the place where strengths first started and our college as the central hub for entrepreneurship.”

Joe Petsick, executive in residence and assistant professor of practice in management, served as the NIL liaison for Nebraska Business for Accelerate. An entrepreneur who co-founded Proxibid, Inc., in 2001, Petsick shared the goal of creating a program which not only focuses on how to help student-athletes make money but also teaches them how to build a business around themselves.

“The College of Business is building the core curriculum that will benefit not just student-athletes, but all students on campus who may be interested in leveraging their personal brands. In addition, we will build a team of student advisors to help with all aspects of the program to ensure each student-athlete can maximize their potential,” Petsick said.

Joining Nebraska Business in 2019, Petsick recognized student-athletes have a proclivity toward entrepreneurship and knew the College of Business could help them realize their potential. He reached out to colleagues across the college and campus to develop Accelerate for student-athletes.

“The College of Law’s Weibling Entrepreneurship Clinic plans to offer student-athletes a variety of tools to protect their brands. These services will vary from representation for legal needs such as entity formation, intellectual property protection and contract review, to educational opportunities and brief consultations. Since 2013, law students in the clinic have worked with clients on these and a variety of other early-stage legal matters under the direct supervision of faculty,” Farrell said. “The College of Journalism and Mass Communications is helping with some exciting programming, including a course called Branding Yourself in Today’s Market. Students will learn how to formulate their own value proposition and convey their knowledge, skills and abilities to prospective employees. Nebraska’s student-athletes will have a distinct advantage due to the collaboration with faculty, staff and students across the university.”

Stretching Strengths at the Clifton Strengths Institute
Student-athletes utilize scientifically developed assessments from Gallup that identify their top natural talents and their entrepreneurial attributes in Accelerate. The Clifton Strengths Institute (CSI), a national model for strengths-based education, is housed in Howard L. Hawks Hall. CSI staff provide workshops and one-on-one coaching for student-athletes as well as share ways to best maximize strengths for success.

Tim Hodges working with students
The Clifton Strengths Institute serves as a national model for strengths-based education, where College of Business faculty, students and staff like Tim Hodges, ’00, ’01 & ’10, help students learn more about their talents.

“The first step in personal branding is discovering who you are and what your natural talents are,” said Timothy Hodges, executive director of the Clifton Strengths Institute and assistant professor of practice in management. “That’s why we’ll use the CliftonStrengths® and Builder Profile 10 assessments to determine factors that, when leveraged, lead to personal success.”

Through coaching with trained student strengths coaches on an ongoing basis, Husker student-athletes learn to focus on doing more of what they naturally do best. Entrepreneurs and business innovators will also assist the student-athletes in their growth as brand builders.

Hodges and team began supporting Nebraska Athletics with assessments and workshops as new student-athletes arrived for summer classes. Hodges also added that Nebraska Athletics and strengths share history as Tom Osborne, former Husker football coach and athletic director, studied with Don O. Clifton, ’48, ’49, ’59 & ’90, known as the father of strengths, many years ago and often shared how he applied what he learned throughout his coaching and leadership.

“Nebraska Athletics has been a recognized leader for providing student-athletes with academic support and life skills for many years," Hodges said. “This renewed focus on strengths-based development and coaching supplements the current programming to ensure that Huskers are ready for success in the classroom and beyond, today and into the future.”

Utilizing Expertise from the Center for Entrepreneurship
The Center for Entrepreneurship serves as the central hub for entrepreneurial resources and research, led by Samuel Nelson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and associate professor of practice in management. With Accelerate, the center hosts several workshops to help student-athletes in the #NILbraska program build up and develop their entrepreneurial talents to better represent their brand.

The Center for Entrepreneurship provides resources, research and houses faculty who teach management and entrepreneurship courses and mentor students. Accessible to all university students, the center provides a place for students to gather and collaborate, invite speakers and work on business plans. The team at the center also plan student competitions where students can pitch their ideas and earn funding. All these components contribute to successful ventures for students starting day one at Nebraska.

Nelson worked with Petsick and Hodges to outline curriculum for the Accelerate pilot program which launched in Fall 2020 with 30 student-athletes. The workshops include Customer Discovery and How to Pitch Yourself and Your Ideas, taught by Nelson, and he also facilitated Building Your Personal Brand. Hodges taught Leveraging Your Strengths.

“The NIL changes provide unique opportunities for students and student-athletes to learn about the entrepreneurial process and to collaborate with each other in new and meaningful ways. Each student-athlete’s NIL has the opportunity to become an entrepreneurial venture that provides an exceptional learning opportunity for them and other students that they partner with at Nebraska,” said Nelson.

To read more about programs available to student entrepreneurs, visit To read more about the Clifton Strengths Institute, visit: