More than a year into the name, image and likeness era in college athletics, college athlete financial literacy and money management are still top of mind for many. Enter U.S. Bank, which is collaborating with NIL giant Opendorse to bring financial education to the more than 80,000 athletes on its platform—around 65,000 of whom are still in college.
Opendorse, which counts more than 100 NCAA schools among its clients alongside a number of professional teams and leagues, and U.S. Bank partnered on custom financial literacy curriculum targeted toward college athletes engaging in previously unavailable NIL earning opportunities. The curriculum will be available to any athletes with an Opendorse account, not just those at schools with whom the athlete endorsement tech company has formal partnerships.
“In the first year of NIL, some of the more revealing conversations [we had] were with student athletes that come from unbanked communities and families … who did not have a bank account to cash out from the Opendorse app,” Opendorse co-founder and CEO Blake Lawrence said in an interview. “That was an eye-opening experience. Financial literacy is a very real need in the market.”
Several early state NIL laws required athletic departments and universities to educate their athletes on topics pertinent to the new commercial doors opened by NIL, which often included financial literacy. Enforcement was unclear from the start, and several states like Florida and Alabama have already begun repealing or walking back some of the requirements and restrictions included in those bills, leaving education in the hands of athletic departments across the country.
In May, the NCAA released the results of an association-wide survey in which nearly 50% of respondents said there was a greater need for education on tax and financial literacy. An even higher percentage of athletes at the Division I level—those whom Lawrence identified as having the “highest earning potential”—articulated a need for more tax resources.
The finance-focused curriculum conveys how to build both short and long-term wealth with quick digital programming. The partnership’s first modules covering budgeting, taxes and deductions, and financial planning will be available starting this month, as the college football season kicks off.
“We hear from student-athletes that they are excited about NIL but want help in understanding how to manage their money, and set themselves up for success,” Kaori Yamada, senior vice president of financial education strategy at U.S. Bank, said in a statement.
U.S. Bank isn’t the first major bank to enter the space. Morgan Stanley entered the college athlete compensation business last year through a partnership with NIL consultancy Altius Sports Partners.