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Name, Image, & Likeness With Marquette’s Wojciechowski

Guest Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette; Jim Cavale, INFLCR
11:43 min watch

Summary

Marquette Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Wojciechowski sits down with INFLCR Founder & CEO Jim Cavale to discuss Coach Wojciechowski’s reasoning for being the first college basketball partner to add the NIL Suite Data Services offering, the Marquette Men’s Basketball brand, how NIL is impacting recruiting, and leaning into NIL.

 

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic). There’s also a full transcription at the bottom if you’d prefer to read to the discussion.

  • - What led you to be a partner of INFLCR and the first college basketball partner to add the NIL Suite Data Services offering?
  • - What do you want people to think when they see that Marquette men’s basketball logo?
  • - How does NIL impact future recruiting and exactly what you’re presenting to a recruit when they’re considering your program?
  • - How will this investment play into the communication you’re going to be delivering to recruits as they come to evaluate the Marquette men’s basketball program?
  • - How are you leaning into NIL, especially in the recruiting process, when it comes to this additional investment with INFLCR?

Full Transcript

 

Jim Cavale: And now we’re joined by Head Coach Wojo from Marquette men’s basketball. And coach, you know, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know you over the past couple of years as we’ve built a partnership between your program and INFLCR, and I watched you lead athletically, academically in ways that stand apart from most programs in America. And I’ve also seen you learn more about social media (admittedly, not being a social media expert) and invest more into the brands on social media of your student-athletes. So I just gotta ask: why INFLCR, and why be the first to add this new offering from INFLCR?

 

Coach Steve Wojciechowski: Well I think it’s a critical part of the student-athlete experience, and their development as people, as players, and then ultimately their own brand. And our partnership with INFLCR gives us a platform, gives us information to help educate our guys, but also promote our guys individually and collectively that will benefit them in the short term and the long term. And with the NLI coming down the pipe, we felt it was incredibly important to be proactive and get our program ahead of the curve, educate our guys, and then execute the plan.

 

Cavale: No doubt about it Coach, and, talking about that word, “brand,”  when I hear your name, “Wojo,” I think of you as aplayer and a coach I think right away, “intensity.” That’s what you’re known for. And, when you see the Nike logo, or any logo of a brand you admire, you have a specific thought right away. What do you want people to think when they see that Marquette men’s basketball logo?

 

Wojciechowski: Well when they see the Marquette men’s basketball logo the first thing I want them to think of is family and all of the things that come into mind when you think of a strong family. There’s a great tradition here at Marquette that has stretched decades upon decades, and we really believe that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Certainly there’s been outstanding coaches and many many great players here. And, as the caretaker of that program, we want to make sure we are a family-oriented group that is pursuing excellence through our competitive spirit, our toughness, and our selflessness.

 

Cavale: No doubt Coach. And, when you look at the investment you’re making into brand-building it’s surely something you can sell to the recruit when he is considering your program. And this is something that we’ve built our entire business off of with more than 700 college team partners across the country, and you’ve been a big part of that, but you’re also an early adopter not only of INFLCR, but now the NIL Suite Data Services offering in being able to package up this communication to the prospective student-athlete. We’ve done this a little bit already, right? We did this with Dawson Garcia when he visited Marquette to look at your program and you wanted to show him how you’re gonna help him build his brand. So now that we’re doing this together, how does it impact future recruiting and exactly what you’re presenting to a recruit when they’re considering your program?

 

Wojciechowski: Well I think it’ll have a huge impact, and you know if you think of recruiting in general as a pie, the pie just got bigger. And the ability to build your individual brand while you’re representing the name on the front of the jersey is going to be something that I think every recruit will want an answer to. Because, with the Name, Image, and Likeness and the possibilities and the potential to create, not only a brand, but ultimately, revenue through their social media presence is something that I think is going to be a conversation we have with every kid that we recruit here at Marquette. And our ability to proactive and continue the partnership with INFLCR and take it really to the next level was a, I think, the perfect natural progression.

 

Cavale: So you say, “take it to the next level,” and Coach that’s exactly why we did the work to roll out this new NIL Suite on top of our current INFLCR offering. You’ve had INFLCR for a while, you’re now one of ten teams that are the first to pilot our NIL Suite Data Services offering. And, what I really think is interesting is some of the things that Data Services will help you be able to do with recruiting are things we’ve already been doing a little bit of with recruits like Dawson Garcia who visited your campus amongst others, ended up signing with you, and you showed Dawson how you’re going to help him build his brand at Marquette. You even gave him a roadmap of the brand-building opportunity from a metrics standpoint based on historical evidence from past athletes that have come through your program and built big brands on social media. This is what we’re going to be doing together with you more often with your coaching staff and your student-athletes, so just talk about how this investment plays into the communication you’re going to be delivering to recruits as they come to evaluate the Marquette men’s basketball program.

 

Wojciechowski: Well I think it’s huge, and I think, one, it shows a university-wide and administrative commitment to our men’s basketball program, where any resource that is going to serve our players, who are the most important people in our program, our university is committed to giving them the best possible experience in every way so they can maximize who they are, not just as players but as people, as students, and now as brands. And so, our partnership with INFLCR and being one of the first to really take off and take it to the next level in terms of individual brand-building and program brand-building I think gives us a leg up on our competition. We are, and we do have a plan to maximize our players’ individual brands, in addition to helping them develop and shape that brand and to be able to tell that story to the world in a way where people, and potentially companies, are going to want them to be spokespeople for what they do.

 

Cavale: Coach, when you look at the NIL recommendations (and of course, that’s what they are at this point, recommendations that will be debated about for months to come before they become finalized as regulations), they can put coaching staffs and programs in a tough spot when it comes to what you’re allowed to be involved in around NIL and your student-athletes’ use of their NIL. And so, I want to talk about how this investment into INFLCR’s NIL Suite Data Services offering is giving you the ability to “lean into” NIL in a way that helps you know you’ll be compliant in how you recruit without any fear around violating any NIL regulations (because, we don’t even know what those regulations are yet). So talk about how you’re leaning into NIL, especially in the recruiting process when it comes to this additional investment with INFLCR.

 

Wojciechowski: Well we base all our decisions on facts, and the fact is, what exactly the NIL looks like in the eyes of the NCAA and how it works is unclear. However, what is clear is that it is important, as you say, to be compliant but also build the individual brands of our players. And we feel like as there is more clarity to what the NCAA is going to ultimately decide, that social media and players’ social media footprint is going to be something that they can potentially benefit off of. I think there’s no question that the investment in that is going to reap huge dividends for our program, and most importantly our players. 

 

Cavale: And when you talk to your players about social media, what do you tell them Coach?

 

Wojciechowski: Well we want our players to embrace social media. I mean the fact of the matter is, it is the way that their generation communicates. And it has tremendous power. It has tremendous power to tell a story. And so we try to educate our guys on the appropriate ways to shape their story and to tell their story where it’s both authentic and compelling to the people who follow them.

 

Cavale: Coach I gotta tell ya: I know you always say that social media is not your biggest expertise but watching you invest in yourself, in your coaching staff, your student-athletes. Over the past couple of years, throughout our partnership between INFLCR and Marquette has been really encouraging because as a young head coach, you are ahead of the curve in how you’re powering the brand-building of your student-athletes. That’s what we’re passionate about at INFLCR. We’re here to serve storytellers. Those storytellers are student-athletes such as yours and teams like Marquette, and we’re just so excited about taking our partnership between INFLCR and Marquette men’s basketball to the next level.

 

Wojciechowski: We appreciate it Jim. We believe in INFLCR, and your company, and your team. Our partnership has been a great one. It has helped us grow our program. Our players and our student-athletes have embraced it at an incredibly high level, and it’s benefitted them in ways they can see now and in ways that they’ll see when they’re finished with their college career. We appreciate your guidance and your support, and being a part of our team here at Marquette. It’s been absolutely awesome.