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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Florida expands student-athletes’ resources

Gators Made aims to provide Florida athletes with tools for career success

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a4441183-038d-7e86-9c58-d45bc1905e0b"><span>Scott Stricklin, 47, the UF athletic director, points to the audience in attendance, saying that without the support of the UF Student Body, the Gators’ athletic success wouldn’t be possible.</span></span></p>

Scott Stricklin, 47, the UF athletic director, points to the audience in attendance, saying that without the support of the UF Student Body, the Gators’ athletic success wouldn’t be possible.

Florida’s student-athletes will now have more personal branding resources.

Gators Made, a program announced Tuesday, aims to provide Florida athletes with tools for career success, according to a Twitter release. The initiative will add brand and social media assessment and education on top of existing resources, such as career advising, financial planning and professional sports counseling.

It’s unclear how much the newly unveiled project will cost the university as of Wednesday evening after calling and messaging senior athletics spokesperson Steve McClain multiple times.

The partnership is with Opendorse, an organization that works with 30,000 athletes, more than 100 athletic programs, hundreds of sponsors, dozens of professional teams and the NFL Players Association, according to the release.

Florida athletics is the first to add Ready with Darlow to its Name, Image and Likeness program, according to the release. It’s also the first Power Five team in the state to join Opendorse Ready.

Jeremy Darlow, the brand consultant behind Ready with Darlow, has worked with well-known athletes, such as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. Darlow will offer live coaching sessions in addition to branding education and courses. 

“Our partnership with Opendorse adds personal brand and social media development to better position student-athletes for current and long-term success,” athletic director Scott Stricklin said in the release.

The collaboration was intended to build up the athletic program as UF has already been providing athletes with resources, McClain said. He likened the changes to the establishment of the Professional Sports Counseling Panel in 1985, adding that programs change over time.

The more than 500 athletes at UF —  across 21 sports — will have access to these services, McClain said. Athletes will have the option to use the services that apply to them. 

Athletes without viable professional careers won’t use professional sports counseling services and will instead divert to resources that help them plan their financial future outside of sports, McClain said.

McClain said there’s no plan to hire someone to run the initiative as of Tuesday. The Otis Hawkins Center, the academic advising center for athletes, has 21 employees committed to the resources available before the Opendorse partnership. 

“Things will continue to evolve in athletics,” McClain added.

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While McClain didn’t confirm if past student-athletes were behind the decision, he said support services are refined from athletes’ feedback. The company was selected because of its focus on branding and social media development.

“It’s really up to our athletes,” he said. “All services are available to them.”


Contact Grethel Aguila at gaguila@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @GrethelAguila

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