When Husker Football center Cam Jurgens needed to trademark his Beef Jurgy brand, College of Business junior Jake Bowman connected him with the College of Law Weibling Entrepreneurship Clinic. As the student who started the first peer-led Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) Advisor program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Bowman helps student-athletes navigate NIL and campus resources to build a business around themselves.
“The NIL Advisor program at its core is designed to help our student-athletes thrive and reach their potential off the court and field,” said Bowman, a management major from Lincoln. “With NIL being so new and having vast applications, our goal is to help equip student-athletes with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful now and after graduation.”
Bowman shared how NIL advisors utilize their own backgrounds, majors and experiences to help with brand development, market identification, proactive outreach to businesses and social media. They also connect student-athletes to other resources across campus and the community when needed.
For Nebraska Basketball freshman guard C.J. Wilcher of Plainfield, N.J., and his long-term endorsement deal with U-Stop Convenience Shop, Bowman attended multiple meetings to discuss what should be shared on social media. He also helped brainstorm ideas for a six-hour photo and video shoot.
“I assist C.J. with a lot of day-to-day things such as reminding him when he needs to post on social media, helping him keep track of all his posts so he gets paid, picking up and dropping off checks and contracts, and keeping him up-to-date with any compliance requests to ensure all posts are in line with the athletic department regulations,” Bowman said.
Freshmen Football linebacker Ernest Hausmann from Columbus, Nebraska, heard about the NIL advisors and their services. However, it wasn’t until he encountered them after getting a meal at the university’s Lewis Training Table in Memorial Stadium that he decided to talk with them.
“Jake helped me make a plan and just take a step back and start at the beginning. I really appreciated that because I have dreams and visions of where I want to be and what the end result may look like, but I did not know where to begin,” Hausmann said.
Last May, Bowman was set to intern for a financial company until he became intrigued by the vision Joe Petsick, executive in residence and assistant professor of practice in management, shared for the NIL Advisor program. An entrepreneur who co-founded Proxibid, Inc., in 2001, Petsick also served as the NIL liaison for the college when building the Accelerate part of #NILbraska for Nebraska Athletics.
“Jake started Pickswap LLC with his brother in high school, and they still run it today with the income from it supporting them both. This entrepreneurial experience was a great attribute to relate to his peers about how to build a business,” Petsick said. “He was also selected for the Clifton Builders program at the College of Business, which is designed to identify and develop students with high leadership and entrepreneurial potential.”
Presented with the opportunity to build the NIL Advisors program from the ground up with Petsick’s guidance, Bowman turned down his internship.
“Nothing is better than real-life experience and jumping head on into things you are new to and having to learn on the fly,” Bowman said. “We knew before we could start engaging with athletes, we had to have some level of structure and resources to be prepared for the basically unlimited number of possibilities an athlete could take with NIL.”
They started establishing relationships with resources at the university, such as the Weibling Entrepreneurship Clinic, which offers student-athletes a variety of tools to protect their brands. It includes representation for legal needs such as entity formation, intellectual property protection and contract review, as well as other services.
Bowman also immersed himself in all things NIL. He joined forces with then-graduate assistant Braly Keller, ’21, who worked as the Huskers NIL Coordinator. At the time, Keller also worked part-time at Opendorse in Lincoln, which provides industry-leading solutions to help athletes with their brand value and is owned by Nebraska Business graduate and former Husker football player Blake Lawrence, ’09.
“I helped Jake understand the NIL regulatory and policy space, along with detailing the athlete endorsement ecosystem from my work at Opendorse,” said Keller. “Having this knowledge was incredibly helpful as Jake truly became the interpreter of NIL opportunities for the Huskers.”
Keller helped establish regular office hours by the Lewis Training Table. Then he and Bowman started connecting with student-athletes.
“The NIL Advisor program is different from other universities, as often the ones educating student-athletes about NIL are athletic staff from compliance. However, from the student’s perspective, compliance is associated with rules and things they should not be doing. At Nebraska, when they work with Jake, he is viewed as a peer and his positioning in the College of Business frames him in an entrepreneurial light because so many NIL activities started there,” Keller said.
Keller began working as a NIL specialist at Opendorse full-time after graduating from the College of Business last December. He also shared another reason why the NIL Advisor program is special.
“So much of the compliance around NIL, both at the NCAA policy level as well as the state legislative front, hinges on institutions and their staff being disconnected from the NIL activity. What gives the student NIL Advisors a leg up is, in fact, that very disconnection from the athletic department,” Keller said. “For policy reasons, the Husker staff have largely stepped out of the advisory framework, allowing it to truly be driven by the College of Business team. When paired with the unmatched cross-campus collaboration, Nebraska student-athletes can easily meet with NIL advisors who can equip them to pursue local, regional and national NIL opportunities.”
Named the College of Business Student of the Month for January, Bowman estimates that nearly 30 student-athletes utilized the guidance and services provided by the NIL Advisors so far. To reach even more student-athletes, he recruited additional advisors in a variety of academic disciplines. They include Cooper Allen, senior management major from Elkhorn, Nebraska; Paige Brandenburg, sophomore business administration major from Wausau, Wisconsin; Claire Neemann, freshman finance major from Lincoln; and D.J. Pfiefer, junior finance major from Grand Island, Nebraska.
“Every week I look forward to what I get to do with NIL. There isn’t anything more fulfilling than knowing you helped someone else get closer to their goals,” Bowman said. “It drives me to figure out new and better ways to engage with more athletes to help them maximize their earning potential and make smart, educated decisions that hopefully make a positive impact on their future.”
For student-athletes interested in learning more, NIL Advisors host office hours every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. by the Lewis Training Table.
“If you are truly considering trying to maximize your NIL experience, the NIL Advisors are the people to meet because they have answers and tips that will help you through the process,” Hausmann said.
For more information about the NIL Advisors, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.