Global professional services provider EY has joined Athletes Unlimited’s sponsor roster for the league’s first two sport seasons in 2022, starting with its inaugural basketball campaign, which tips off in Las Vegas on Jan. 26.
WNBA star Natasha Cloud and a number of other current and former professional players will take the court for the 30-game season, which will be broadcast across Fox and CBS. Baden Sports has also signed on as a basketball sponsor, serving as the sport’s official ball provider.
Athletes Unlimited declined to disclose financial terms of the sponsorships.
As part of their deal, which extends through the league’s softball season in March, EY will also sponsor a new civic leadership award, to recognize community work done by Athletes Unlimited athletes over the past year. It will also participate in the league’s Athletes+ program, geared toward supporting AU athletes off the field or court in business, financial management and more. Baden’s partnership also involves community-based work, namely the creation of a program that will allow players to donate basketballs to an organization or community of their choice.
“The mix of partners coming on to support both the athlete and the fan experience is really important to us,” Athletes Unlimited co-founder and CEO Jon Patricof said in a phone interview. “The EY partnership, in particular, shows that we have partners that are excited to continually improve the athlete experience and highlight those players, and with Baden, too, that are really coming in supporting our core beliefs and helping us accomplish things that we wouldn’t be able to do without them.”
Nike and Topps, two of the league’s founding sponsors, as well as Gatorade and sport insole company VKTRY, have all extended their partnerships with Athletes Unlimited through the entirety of 2022, which includes plans for five seasons across four sports—basketball, indoor volleyball, lacrosse and two softball campaigns. A handful of other existing partners renewed through select early seasons, like basketball and volleyball.
Financial firm Aspiration, insurance company GEICO and mortgage company Guaranteed Rate round out Athletes Unlimited’s partner portfolio for year three. The network of sports leagues, which launched with softball in 2020, hopes that as it continues to expand its offerings, partners will increasingly ink multi-sport or season deals as opposed to one-off arrangements.
“We are proud of the core response from our sport-specific fans,” Patricof said. “But what we’re seeing now as we head into the third year of our leagues operating is that we’re reaching general sports fans, and that is broadening our audience. It’s making us increasingly relevant and powerful as a platform for partners.”