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UCLA’s new NIL initiative aims to connect athletes directly with local businesses

Shae Anderson of UCLA looks on ahead of the 400-meter hurdle final during the 2021 season
UCLA runner Shae Anderson says she is excited about the Bruins’ new portal that will connect athletes with businesses interested in reaching name, image and likeness agreements.
(Katharine Lotze / Getty Images)
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Never let it be said that UCLA is doing nil about NIL.

School athletic officials will announce Thursday afternoon a new venture called Westwood Exchange that’s designed to enhance Bruins athletes’ ability to secure name, image and likeness deals.

Westwood Exchange will allow businesses, donors, fans and alumni to register with the school so that they can connect directly with athletes seeking NIL deals that could include autograph sessions, private lessons in their respective sports, public appearances, athletic camps and social media promotion, among other possibilities. The initiative is expected to be centered on small, local businesses that want to engage UCLA athletes and could be especially beneficial in landing deals for those who compete in lower-profile sports.

UCLA plans to leverage ties to Hollywood and talent agencies to help athletes capitalize on NCAA name, image and likeness rules that go into effect July 1.

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“We are excited to add Westwood Exchange to our NIL programming,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said. “This streamlined process enables alumni, fans and local business to engage with our student-athletes like never before. Exchange gives our student-athletes direct access to Bruin Nation and vice versa.”

After registering, businesses or individuals can contact athletes through a portal listing those interested in seeking NIL deals. The portal also facilitates payment and issues compliance documents in addition to tax forms the athletes will need to disclose their income. Companies can register at uclabruins.com/westwoodexchange.

“It’s going to be such an amazing platform for UCLA student-athletes to acquire great NIL opportunities,” said Shae Anderson, a UCLA sprinter who competed in the Tokyo Olympics.

UCLA previously announced Westwood Ascent, which provided tutorials for athletes on NIL basics, building personal brands and disclosing deals. UCLA also has offered NIL programs through the Anderson School of Management, the Center for Media, Entertainment and Sports and the Law School’s Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law.

UCLA basketball star Jaime Jaquez Jr. and his siblings, Gabriela and Marcos, signed a deal with Tricolor Holdings to use their name, image and likeness for marketing purposes.

Along the way, UCLA has given its athletes access to technology that provides graphics and photography to personalize social media galleries through a mobile app, as well as audience engagement data and analytics.

Since NIL deals were allowed on July 1, an army of UCLA athletes have become brand ambassadors. Among other deals, shooting guard Johnny Juzang had his own bobblehead doll, receiver Kam Brown scored a deal with Mercedes-Benz and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson recently announced a deal with Crocs as part of his growing portfolio.

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