Brand of Kentucky basketball: How UK is supporting players through new NIL landscape

Lance Ware. Dontaie Allen. TyTy Washington. CJ Fredrick. Oscar Tshiebwe. Keion Brooks Jr. Bryce...
Lance Ware. Dontaie Allen. TyTy Washington. CJ Fredrick. Oscar Tshiebwe. Keion Brooks Jr. Bryce Hopkins. Daimion Collins. Sahvir Wheeler. Brennan Canada. Practice on July 7. Photos by Chet White | UK Athletics(Chet White | UK Athletics)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 9:38 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - New name, image, and likeness rules have changed the landscape of college athletics. At UK, many players are signing lucrative deals, and we’re learning more about the support they’re getting from the university.

TJ Beisner is UK’s director of player development. He said the university isn’t directly involved in setting up NIL deals for players— they have to do that themselves. But his office plays a key role in giving players a better understanding of what rules they have to follow and the possibilities of what they can achieve.

“My role in NIL is, really my role in everything we do is education and protection with the players,” Beisner said. “So this is a big opportunity for them, but they’re young and inexperienced in this area so we have a job where we can educate them, on not only the responsibilities like taxes and those things, but also the opportunities that come from being in business for yourself.”

Beisner said players have to submit any NIL deals to the compliance office for review, and players have to follow a few key restrictions. They aren’t able to advertise tobacco products or alcohol, for example.

According to Beisner, the idea is to do no harm.

“We want to be cautious more than anything, which goes back to our overall theme of, we don’t want NIL to get in the way of NBA, or whatever you want to do next,” Beisner said. “This is an opportunity for you, but we want to handle it right, so it doesn’t compromise what you’re able to do in the future.”

And so far, that message seems to be sinking in with players, even the biggest stars on the team.

It was big news when TyTy Washington signed a deal to get a Porsche, but Beisner had a different story that you may not have heard.

“My favorite story about TyTy’s Porsche is he loaded his teammates up about a week after he got it, we went across campus and packed meals for God’s Pantry and then dropped them off. That’s what we want to see from our guys, is you have these opportunities but how can you use those to also give back to the community and the people who mean so much,” Beisner said.

Beisner said the program was built on selflessness, and these new changes are helping every player on the team through financial counseling and business advice.

“The opportunity we have to teach them about being their own business fits into our overall view of engaging with the community, engaging with the fan base, that’s how they become more valuable as a brand is being engaging with their community,” Beisner said.

And he said the opportunities here at Kentucky are the best available.

“The brand of Kentucky basketball is one of a kind,” Beisner said.

We also found out more about Oscar Tshiebwe’s situation at UK. Right now, he isn’t allowed to participate in most NIL deals because of his visa status. He has a student visa that restricts his ability to work.

UK officials said they’re waiting for more guidance about what he can do in the future, and right now, they’re being cautious. He has been allowed to make Cameo videos for fans because it doesn’t meet the criteria of work as defined by visa restrictions.

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