Utah continues to make inroads in terms of name, image and likeness for its student-athletes. 

This week, Utah Athletics announced the Elevate U program is partnering with Accelerate Sports Ventures to serve as the school’s official NIL consultancy. 

“We are excited to team up with Doug Fillis and Accelerate Sports Ventures,” said Utah athletic director Mark Harlan in a statement. “Doug’s background makes him uniquely qualified to understand and navigate the NIL landscape. Leveraging Accelerate’s industry expertise gives our student-athletes a significant advantage in optimizing their NIL opportunities locally and beyond. We’re confident that Accelerate will help ensure Utah Athletics is well-positioned nationally in this important space.”

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Accelerate will help Utah student-athletes navigate NIL issues, including the process of implementing NIL strategies and best practices for the department.

Utah is one of many programs across the country that uses Accelarate’s services — including Boston College, North Carolina State and Penn State. More than 100 junior colleges and more than 100 high schools also use the service.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with and support the University of Utah as they provide their athletes and staff the tools to take full advantage of name, image and likeness,” said Fillis, Accelerate Sports Ventures’ founder. “NIL is about opportunity and empowerment and we are thrilled to assist all Utah stakeholders as they navigate this new era of college athletics.”

In April, Utah announced the launch of the Crimson Collective, which is designed to assist student-athletes in building their unique brand and connect them with the community and support them in their goals and capitalize on their NIL marketing opportunities. 

Naturally, coach Kyle Whittingham wholeheartedly supports efforts in helping him and his staff vie for the best talent available to compete for championships. 

“Recruiting is the most important thing to succeed in college football over anything else, hands down. The biggest advantage to gain in recruiting is NIL resources, without a doubt. It’s the No. 1 thing that moves the needle, that allows you to retain a roster and recruit new guys into the program,” Whittingham said.

“Whether you love or hate it or agree with it or disagree with it, none of that matters,” he continued. “It’s here and it’s here to stay. If you love your team and you love your programs, then we need your support because that’s the direction college football is going. I don’t know if it’s going to be exactly, but the top 25 (in providing NIL opportunities) will be very similar to the top 25 teams.

“In my estimation, there will be some major realignment in the not-too-distant future,” the coach added. “We want to make sure that we’re on the right side of the line in the sand, when they do draw that line, and having a strong NIL is going to be a huge component and factor in that.”

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks onto the field before playing USC Trojans for the Pac-12 Championship at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham walks onto the field before playing USC Trojans for the Pac-12 championship game at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News