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BYU and Utah now both have name, image and likeness plans in place

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Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake greet after the game in Provo.

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake greet after the game in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Utah won 19-13. On Thursday, both BYU and Utah announced programs to help their student-athletes capitalize on name, image an likeness opportunities.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Whether it was intentional or not is unclear, but the rivalry between the BYU Cougars and Utah Utes even spilled over into the hot-button topic of name, image and likeness on Thursday.

During the BYU football program’s annual media day Thursday morning, athletic director Tom Holmoe announced the creation of the Built4Life program, which will help Cougar student-athletes “capitalize on name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities.”

A little less than two hours later, Utah announced a similar program for its student-athletes it is calling Elevate U.

“Our student-athletes will have an opportunity, in this great community, to explore sponsorship deals and business possibilities, and profit from those endeavors,” Utes athletic director Mark Harlan said in the announcement. “We will work very closely with them to educate and empower them with all of the tools necessary to succeed in this environment and maximize all of their opportunities.”

Although both schools were eager in their announcements to emphasize that the programs will help student-athletes with more than just name, image and likeness issues, the creation of them follows a growing trend around the country as universities gear up for the impending chance student-athletes will be able to benefit off their NILs for the first time.

Both schools cited the state of Utah’s ranking by U.S. News & World Report as the best economy in the country as a selling point for student-athletes to be well-positioned to capitalize off their NIL.

While both programs will be similar in nature, here are a few characteristics of each, as outlined in the schools’ announcements.


  • “The Built4Life focus is on providing real-world work experience that is tailored to individual student-athletes, and those work experience connections can be the impetus for NIL opportunities,” BYU said in its announcement. “Student-athletes who are providing legitimate value through internships, already on an organization’s payroll, can be utilized for NIL opportunities, such as sponsored social media posts or other marketing/advertising purposes, with the organization they are interning for.”
  • The “Built4Life” network has been created with the Salt Lake Chamber, the Utah Valley Chamber and Silicon Slopes as “founding members” to help student-athletes establish business connections.
  • BYU previously announced a partnership with Opendorse, a company that will help student-athletes learn how to better build their brands on social media.


  • Elevate U was created in partnership with the university’s David Eccles School of Business and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.
  • Like at BYU, Utah student-athletes will have a network of contacts and resources available to them to help them navigate new business opportunities, which will include “notable Utah alumni and community members.”

The announcements from the two schools comes as Congress continues to debate a federal NIL bill. There was wide hope that such a bill would be passed by July 1, but Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported Thursday that Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said, “It’s safe to say something isn’t going to make it through the halls of Congress by that date.”

Numerous states have passed NIL bills which will allow student-athletes to start profiting off their NILs, although Utah is not one of them.