More than 100 student-athlete alumni from the University of North Carolina have agreed to support a groundbreaking multi-year agreement with marketing and licensing agency The Brandr Group (“TBG”) to create a voluntary group licensing program. This initiative – which allows former student-athletes, in conjunction with their alma mater, to voluntarily participate in a group player rights program – is the first of its kind for former college athletes and will allow participants to profit from their marketability.
Carolina men’s basketball alumni from the past four decades and women’s soccer stars from multiple national championship teams already have agreed to participate, including Mia Hamm, Heather O’Reilly, Hubert Davis, Sean May, Marvin Williams, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Buzz Peterson. Additional alumni from both programs are expected to join, and former UNC student-athletes from other teams may be added in the future.
“We are proud to have so many remarkable student-athletes who contributed to our great legacy at Carolina, and who have gone on to do outstanding things,’’ said UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “This group licensing program is a way for us to extend our relationship with them – to provide more opportunities to former student-athletes, even long after they leave the University – while allowing fans to remember and recognize them, as well.”
For decades, products that combine team logos and player names and numbers have accounted for a large portion of licensed sports merchandise sales at the professional level. This innovative project opens the door for the same opportunities for former student-athletes at the collegiate level. Through this new approach, Carolina fans can own merchandise and other products featuring their school’s logo and the names and numbers of favorite former Tar Heels.
“I loved my time at UNC and will always be honored to be a part of the Carolina Women’s Soccer family,’’ said sports icon Mia Hamm, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame who won four national titles as a Tar Heel. “It was a privilege to compete for championships at a school that so clearly sees the value in women’s athletics and Olympic sports, and it’s an honor to be an alum of a University that continues to appreciate the history made by so many dedicated female student-athletes. This initiative is an exciting way to celebrate the successes we all have enjoyed together, and I hope it helps continue to inspire the next generation of female student-athletes.”
The program will seek group licensing opportunities in apparel and non-apparel categories and maximize creative co-brand development. TBG, which has industry-leading experience creating and managing similar programs with the NFL and NBA players associations, is working closely with the University and the school’s licensing partner, the Collegiate Licensing Company, to identify prospective licensees. Only companies that utilize group player programs with three or more former Carolina student-athletes will be able to participate in the group licensing program.
“We knew that Carolina wanted to celebrate its former student-athletes, and after being a part of the success of similar programs throughout the sports marketplace, we are excited to team with the Tar Heels in this endeavor,” said The Brandr Group President and Founder Wesley Haynes. “This is a very innovative concept, and it shows how a group license can be utilized to benefit former college players as well as fans. We are looking forward to having products available at retail for UNC fans later in 2021.”
Said Sean May, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2005 NCAA tournament after leading the Tar Heels to the championship: “As a former player, being a part of a group licensing program like this is an amazing opportunity for me, and my fellow alums, to stay connected with the University that we love. North Carolina Basketball has always been about family, and having a program like this that former players want to be a part of shows why this place is so special.”