LUBBOCK, Texas – Already one of the most recognizable brands in college athletics, Texas Tech Athletics announced Monday the creation of Beyond Verified, a multi-faceted Name-Image-Likeness (NIL) program designed to build and safeguard each student-athlete’s personal brand.
Beyond Verified will officially launch in June in anticipation of upcoming Texas state law and NCAA rules changes pertaining to NIL rights for student-athletes. The program, backed by a dedicated athletics staff, will provide industry leading tools for student-athletes to build and grow the reach of their name, image and likeness, while learning to protect their personal business assets.
“When you think about the Texas Tech brand, you think about the promise of the highest-quality education and competing on the biggest stages in college athletics,” Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt said. “There is a promise and conviction of an entire fan base here that is as passionate as any program in the country. That’s a promise we can guarantee to our student-athletes, one that enables a connection to the entire Red Raider Nation. The Texas Tech brand provides our student-athletes the opportunity to be at the forefront of this changing landscape.”
As part of the new program, Texas Tech will extend its partnership with Opendorse, which has served as the athletics department’s content-delivery platform for student-athletes since 2018. The existing partnership has included award-winning student-athlete engagement rates since its launch, giving Texas Tech the ability to provide photo or video content to its student-athletes in quick fashion following an event or through first-person narratives such as its “In My Words” series.
Opendorse Ready, a new NIL-specific component that will expand Texas Tech’s relationship with the company, provides student-athletes education around personal branding, a personal-branding assessment and social media analytics, all while allowing athletics departments to more-easily manage NIL compliance through technology.
“Texas Tech has been an award-winning program in terms of athlete brand development for several years,” said Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence. “We’ve been fortunate to experience the program’s growth as a longtime partner, providing products to best assist and engage their student-athletes and alumni. I’m proud to now expand this great partnership and prepare the Red Raiders to win in the new era of college sports.”
While the turn to NIL will be new to many, Texas Tech has been preparing for this change in legislation for the past several years. The athletics department has invested numerous resources into helping student-athletes responsibly build their brands through its communications, social media and sports broadcasting staffs as well as through life-skills programing.
Texas Tech has built a state-of-the-art television studio in recent years to further promote its student-athletes through its vast social media reach and its third-tier rights agreement with ESPN+. The athletics department boasts an engaged social media audience that regularly ranks among the nation’s leaders in engagement rates and total following.
Texas Tech has and will continue to prioritize storytelling as it relates to student-athletes promotion, giving a national alumni and fan base an inside look at who each student-athlete is not only in competition but more importantly, off the field.
“For our football program, this has been a priority for us for several years now to put our student-athletes in the best possible situations to maximize their own exposure and build their personal brand,” head football coach Matt Wells said. “Beyond Verified is going to only increase that commitment, and we are excited to work hand-in-hand with so many partners to deliver the best NIL program in the country.”
Beyond Verified revolves around much more than social media, though. Through various campus partners, such as the College of Media and Communications, Texas Tech will provide resources for student-athletes to not only build their individual brands but safeguard it with continued education on fiscal responsibility and budgeting.
Amy Heard, Senior Associate Athletics Director for strategic initiatives, has been tabbed to oversee the Beyond Verified program.
“Texas Tech has always been at the forefront of change in college athletics with the launch of Beyond Verified being the latest example,” head men’s basketball coach Mark Adams said. “We want our student-athletes to succeed in every aspect of life, and the education and guidance our student-athletes will receive from this program is invaluable. The Texas Tech way is to aspire to the highest level, and we are doing just that with our approach to NIL.”
Texas Tech Athletics and the Double T, as a whole, are considered one of the most-profitable brands yearly as the university consistently ranks in the top 25 in royalties generated among the Collegiate Licensing Company’s (CLC) partner institutions.
Additionally, Texas Tech has been the starting spot for several of the most-recognizable athletes and brand leaders in sports from the likes of NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes II to Olympic gold medalist and Nike spokeswoman Sheryl Swoopes and a long list of other professional athletes such as Jarrett Culver (NBA), Josh Jung (MLB), Kim Kaufman (LPGA Tour) and Janine Beckie (Soccer), among others.
“I can say personally there is unlimited potential for a Texas Tech graduate in this world,” head women’s basketball coach Krista Gerlich said. “The Beyond Verified program will give our student-athletes a multitude of resources to navigate their NIL possibilities and reach their potential while still a student-athlete on our campus. We are excited about its launch and its ability to assist our student-athletes.”