Conway Seeks 30 UCA Athletes to Promote City Under NIL Deals

Conway Seeks 30 UCA Athletes to Promote City Under NIL Deals
Rachel Shaw (Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau said Thursday that it wants to sign 30 student athletes from the University of Central Arkansas to "name, image and likeness" agreements to promote the city.

The bureau said student athletes would be trained as "ambassadors and brand representatives" touting Conway's "quality of place" and visitor amenities. It called the agreements between individual athletes and a public entity the first of its kind in the country.

"Conway is a growing college town with great restaurants and parks. We have a lot to offer students, visitors, and young professionals," Rachel Shaw, executive director of the Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a news release. "No one is in a better position to explain what it's like to move here and thrive than this group."

The bureau is looking to select an inaugural group of 30 athletes over the coming weeks. Athletes who sign deals would promote the city through videos, ad campaigns and their own social media accounts.

The city is able to sign athletes under new state and NCAA rules that allow student-athletes to receive compensation for the commercial use of their publicity rights.

The CVB said it will consider several factors when choosing the athletes, including academic standing, references, social media activity, athletic performance and equitable representation. Shaw estimates that most of the students will earn between $500 to $2,000 during their time in the program.

"The CVB is getting a good deal with regard to the exposure," she said. "And our ambassadors will have the opportunity to earn fair compensation rather than just rewards or merchandise."

UCA men's basketball player Jaxson Baker of Phoenix is one of the program's first signees. Baker, president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), has 84,000 TikTok followers.

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