Those they encourage to wear the four letters will be honored by name.
Running a business as college students will enhance their image.
Their likeness will be displayed on buttons worn at UCLA games, with fellow athletes from their school coming together to cheer them on while getting paid.
One year into the NIL era, there has been a massive effort to make Westwood rich in new items. It will be run by Bruin athletes from all sports. They will make the decisions. They will collect the money. They will design the program focused on community outreach and fan engagement.
The athletes will benefit from showing up to events, serving on an advisory board and fundraising. Show them the money, yes, but also watch them show you the different ways they can encourage the UCLA sports community.
“The money is great, don’t get me wrong, but we’re not here trying to come up with a dollar,” said UCLA guard Jaylen Clark, part of the Bruin Fan NIL NIL alliance that is set to launch Thursday. “We’re really here to help give back to the people around us more than trying to make a quick buck and then go on living our lives and doing a little something at camp – that’s not the point is there at all. We all have our hearts in the right place.”
The concept was created by BFA chairman Gene Karzen, a UCLA alumnus who took $50,000 in seed money to start the athlete-driven nonprofit, such as former Bruins stars like Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson working in consultative quality with current athletes to craft the program.
If linebacker Carl Jones Jr. wants to. run a football clinic in his hometown of Bakersfield, go to it. If Clark wants to bring a group of Bruins to the Inland Empire to inspire kids where he grew up, that’s no problem.
“We can do something unprecedented,” Karzen said. “We are rolling out the NIL model within a charity organization that is run and owned by current and former athletes.”
Big names like running back Zach Charbonnet, point guard Tyger Campbell and sprinter Shae Anderson are among the nearly 30 UCLA athletes from nine sports who have signed up, and scores more are expected to join. The athletes will fundraise through social media and word of mouth, pocketing exactly 20% of donations sent to a link on the BFA website.
Karzen, who is donating the BFA he founded in 2015, estimates that the athletes will take about 75% of all the money that comes in, with the balance going to operating costs and former UCLA athletes who will provide support services such as financial. giving advice. The goal of the collective is to raise between $750,000 and $1 million per year.
It will be a great opportunity for some of those older Bruins to reconnect with people who did what they once did.
If I can help some kids growing up who might be five stars in the future or whatever and they remember that and they’re like, “Oh, I want to go to UCLA and be in my Bruin,” that would be great for me.
— UCLA guard Jaylen Clark
“Former athletes, it was tough on guys — when they left, they weren’t really coming back to campus,” said Dietrich Riley, a former Bruins safety who is now a liaison between the collective and the department. athletics. “So now that we have guys coming back and showing their faces but also aligning with charity work and also being able to work with current athletes, it’s really cool, it’s special.”
The intense effort has already sparked new friendships between athletes from different sports who are often among their teammates. In a recent event that served as a test run before the formal launch, Campbell went one-on-one with cornerback Jaylin Davies and buried a jumper over Davies’ outstretched arm.
“I’ve never met anybody on the basketball team before,” wide receiver Logan Loya said, “so that’s a big thing.”
Since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly 2½ years ago, the Bruins’ athletes haven’t had much interaction with fans either. That changed during a Memorial Day weekend football youth clinic in South Park held by the BFA in conjunction with the Los Angeles Police Department, running back Keegan Jones lofting passes, Charbonnet signing footballs and running back Deshun Murrell pulling chuckles with his cowboy boots.
The group then visited the nearby Pueblo Del Rio housing project to shoot baskets with kids on backboards with empty rims. It is hoped that some of the children who appreciate these contacts will be encouraged to follow their heroes to Westwood.
“If I can help some kids growing up who might be five stars or whatever in the future and they remember that and they’re like, ‘Oh, I want to go to UCLA and to be a Bruin,’ that would be great for me,” said Clark, one of three athlete-ambassador captains who will be heavily involved in decision-making.
The group has planned a strong schedule in the coming weeks to overcome its launch and the ways in which it can serve the community. Remember those awkward backboards at Pueblo Del Rio? At a ceremony on July 27, the group will unveil new backboards and a resurfaced court bearing the BFA logo. Three days later, the group will hold a fundraising barbecue in Irvine that will allow the athletes to mingle with fans.
Beginning this fall, the ambassador group will celebrate the athlete of the week by wearing buttons bearing their name and meeting fans for a pregame drink or meal before reuniting to root for the athlete on campus . BFA affiliated athletes who show up will receive an appearance fee.
“The idea is that you’re developing a much more passionate, connected fan base,” Karzen said. “All the fans will see what’s going on and say, ‘What is this group? They are amazing.’ And while they’re out there, sure, they’ll be telling the public who they are, what they’re doing and please check out the website for all the things we’re doing in the community.”
Karzen also envisioned a program in which the group recruited at-risk kids with athletic talent and placed them on 15 to 20 club-style teams, each coached by a UCLA athlete. The group would provide tutoring, life counseling and nutritional support with the hope of giving each child an athletic or academic college scholarship, some of whom may end up in Westwood as part of the philanthropy.
“We see so many other schools around the country that their athletes are getting compensated,” Riley said, “but does it really make an impact in the community? Will he really be sincere among others? With this, you are able to influence the community working with children and you are getting fans at the end of the day, you are going to give them to go home and say that the opportunity to work with Devin Kirkwood or Stephan Blaylock or Jaylin Davies or Zach Charbonnet. How special is that?
“So guess what, you’ll have lifelong fans and kids looking up to you for years to come. This is what UCLA has been missing.”
The Bruins now have it, the athletes who are getting together business and leadership skills that could open doors to other NIL opportunities, not to mention graduate jobs. In the meantime, they are looking forward to enjoying themselves while representing their school and pocketing some extra money.
“This is like my dream kind of job,” Clark said, “because I just get to be myself.”