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4 Wisconsin student-athletes aim to ‘Change the Game’ through NIL partnership

Jeremy Crabtree09/12/22
four-wisconsin-bagers-student-athletes-aim-to-change-the-game-through-nil-partnership
(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Through its partnership with the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department LEARFIELD’s Badger Sports Properties, four Wisconsin student-athletes have joined in a NIL deal with Fetch Rewards.

Not only has Fetch Rewards been named a new corporate partner through the deal, Chimere Dike (football), Devyn Robinson (volleyball), Chucky Hepburn (men’s basketball) and Sydney Hilliard (women’s basketball) have all agreed to a NIL deal with Fetch.

Each athlete will engage in a content video series centered on “Changing the Game” to share what inspires them about being a Badger and why they chose Wisconsin.

LEARFIELD’s Social+ lead will manage the series project. The group will adapt the creative for UW’s official athletics platforms and video boards. The terms of the deals were not released.

“I’m thrilled to see an innovative company like Fetch invest in an innovative and multi-faceted campaign like this,” UW Director of Athletics Chris McIntosh said in a news release. “The NIL component of this campaign is an especially exciting opportunity for our student-athletes. They will benefit from working with the fantastic Fetch team, which has deep ties to UW and is a leader in Madison’s tech and business community.”

Debuting this fall, the “Changing the Game” campaign will feature stories told through the eyes of talent cultivated in Madison and at the university, showcasing the development of leaders on the field, in the workplace, and in our community. The multi-year sponsorship agreement with Wisconsin Athletics will allow Fetch unprecedented brand exposure among a loyal and passionate Badger fanbase. The company will fully use University IP and receive partnership benefits that include in-venue, digital and social assets to leverage the NIL component.

Fetch has deep Wisconsin ties

Fetch, one of the nation’s No. 1 rewards app, is a groundbreaking consumer-engagement platform that works directly with brands to reward app users for every purchase. Founded by CEO Wes Schroll, then a UW-Madison sophomore, the Fetch app launched in 2017 and has since grown to more than 17 million monthly active users.

The company is valued at more than $2.5 billion and has raised more than $500 million in funding from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Hamilton Lane, ICONIQ, and Greycroft.

“When Fetch first launched, this was considered flyover country. The big investors didn’t write many checks to fuel tech innovation in the Midwest,” said Birk Cooper, Badger alumnus and Chief Marketing Officer, Fetch Rewards.

“But we changed the game and proved that you can build world-class consumer tech, right here in Madison. That’s why we’re doubling down and expanding our local presence – we want to play a role in advancing the technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem, and Wisconsin Athletics is the perfect partner to help us connect with and inspire the next generation of talent.”

Wisconsin NIL opportunities continue to develop

Last week, Wisconsin has relaunched its Varsity Collective, with a plan to provide NIL opportunities with a focus on life experiences.

When the collective initially launched earlier this summer, it had plenty of support. Former Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger and mega-donor Ted Kellner were the main supporters of the first initiative, and they will be major names in the relaunch.

They won’t be the only ones, though. Russell WilsonJJ Watt, Meghan Duggan, Joe Thomas and Sam Dekker are just a few of the former Wisconsin athletes who have committed to helping the collective in the relaunch.

Varsity Collective will focus on achieving two goals: maximizing NIL opportunities while also equipping Wisconsin student-athletes with lifelong experiences for their post-athletic careers.

“From our perspective institutionally, it was important to have a group that wanted to affiliate with us that was also aligned to what we view ourselves to be all about here,” said Brian Mason, Wisconsin’s Director of NIL Strategy told On3. “And that’s holistic support of the student-athlete. From everything that we’ve come to understand about The Varsity Collective and what their model is, I think that fits the bill. They have the good intent of supporting student-athletes not just in the NIL space but also helping prepare them to take advantage of everything that comes along with NIL deals.”