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WVU Football, Darlow Form Partnership to Enhance Student-Athlete Branding

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (May 7, 2020) – West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown has announced that the Mountaineer Football program has formed a partnership with brand marketing consultant and author Jeremy Darlow to educate Mountaineer players and develop their skills in growing their personal brands that will take them beyond sports.

“Our football players will be learning how to build their own brand from a person who wrote the book on the subject and is an individual who has worked with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment,” Brown said. “We’re excited to provide that level of expertise to our players.”

One of Brown’s missions since taking over the football program in January 2019 has been to develop each player as a complete person, not only on the field, but off. Since then, the culture of the football program has changed, the leadership is dynamic and the player development and buy-in rate is at a high level.

Brown has implemented a “5th-Quarter Program” for the team to assist in the development of the total player. In that program, branding is a component under “Real Life.” The other pillars of the program are character development, leadership development, social responsibility and career development.

“The goal is to teach athletes how to build personal brands that set them up for success in life, regardless of what happens in sports,” Darlow adds. “Too often athletes are defined entirely by their athletic careers without developing influence in other areas of passion. My goal is to change that.”

Currently, the NCAA has committed to examining rules changes which would allow student-athletes to receive compensation for third-party endorsements both related to and separate from athletics. Brown and WVU Football are formulating this partnership to put the players in an advantageous position in the future.

“What we did was try and get in front of this,” Brown said. “It’s about education and educating our players on how to take advantage of that. What is a brand? What does it look like?”

This partnership between WVU Football and Darlow will give each player the ability to recognize and grow his influence, target and identify his potential audience and develop strong communication platforms.

West Virginia is first school in the Big 12 Conference admitted into the Darlow athletic brand development program and only the second Power Five University in the nation.

“This is going to be a great educational tool for our student-athletes,” Brown said. “Jeremy has created a game plan that will teach athletes how to manage, market and build their personal brands. “I look forward to incorporating his ideas into our player development program.”

Student-athletes will build their own marketing plan and learn the same techniques used by Darlow. Each week, student-athletes will watch a short video lesson covering one of his philosophies on brand development. At the end of each video, student-athletes are then given the option to complete an assignment found in their copy of his book, The DARLOW Rules. Those homework assignments make up portions of the student-athlete’s personal brand marketing plan.

“Today, more than at any other point in history, athletes have the opportunity to build personal brands that transcend the sports they play,” Darlow said. “Thanks to the exposure and influence offered by social media, these young men and women can now control their own brand destiny.”

The DARLOW Rules will feature short, easy-to-understand lessons that teach student-athletes from every sport the fundamentals of brand development and communication.

“My mission is to teach athletes how to create a personal brand and reputation that sets them up for life after sports,” Darlow said. “I’m proud to work with West Virginia, which believes in preparing their student-athletes for life after college.”

Darlow is a leading brand marketing consultant, former director of marketing for adidas football and baseball, adjunct marketing professor and author of the best-selling books “Brands Wins Championships” and “Athletes are Brands Too”.

Over his career, he has worked with schools like Georgia Tech, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, UCLA and Wisconsin; athletes who include Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Lionel Messi, Von Miller, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers; and celebrities such as Kanye West and Snoop Dogg. He helps college athletic programs, coaches and athletes build and elevate their brands to elite levels.

For more information and to explore The DARLOW Rules, visit www.thedarlowrules.comor follow the conversation on Twitter via @JeremyDarlow.

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