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Michigan State student-athletes can combine Name, Image and Likeness with MSU’s official trademarks and logos through group licensing program

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The next step in Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policies at Michigan State could be a game-changer for the university’s student-athletes. Spartan athletes now have the opportunity to combine their Name, Image and Likeness with MSU’s official trademarks and logos by participating in a group licensing program. The program is created and managed by The Brandr Group.

The Brandr Group is a Florida-based “brand management, marketing and licensing agency with broad experience and an expertise in sports.”

Michigan State previously prohibited its athletes from using MSU logos, trademarks, images or institutional marks, per the school’s initial policy. It still doesn’t appear that athletes will be able to leverage the school’s logos and trademarks on individual deals, but can be “marketed in groups of three or more from any one specific sport or six or more from multiple sports in combination with university trademarks,” according to the school’s press release.

Participation in the new group licensing program is voluntary. It will not restrict any individual deals the student-athletes enter into outside of the program, but is an additional avenue for athletes looking to leverage Michigan State’s national brand.

Paul Schager, Michigan State’s executive associate athletic director/external operations, had this to say on the new program, via press release:

“This is an exciting opportunity for Spartan student-athletes to combine their Name, Image and Likeness with Michigan State trademarks and logos,” Schager said. “NIL continues to evolve, but this is an opportunity for Michigan State Athletics to support its student-athletes as they navigate this new landscape.”

As for the operations process, The Brandr Group will create, activate and manage the group licensing program on behalf of the Michigan State student-athletes who choose to participate. The Brandr Group’s responsibilities in this agreement include securing sponsors and licensees to support the program and its participants.

Wesley Haynes, CEO of The Brandr Group, had this to say about the new program with Michigan State:

“We are proud to collaborate with Michigan State University and to bring this program to an institution with such a stellar reputation in college athletics as well as for such a loyal, passionate fan base.” Haynes said. “This is a great step for Michigan State University to create for their student-athletes and to provide a viable path for cobranding. No doubt, this will be beneficial for all of their student-athletes who opt into the program.”

MSU seems to be fully embracing the NIL era. In June, Michigan State launched its “EverGreen” program to support, educate and help student-athletes learn how to market themselves and find opportunities. The new group licensing program allowing the use of university logos and trademarks is another step toward supporting and helping the athletes maximize their earning potential and build a brand.