Jon McBride | Posted: 16 Jun 2021 | Updated: 5 May 2022

BYU Athletics launches Built4Life career development and NIL program

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BYU Built4Life graphic

PROVO, Utah — BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe announced today the creation of Built4Life, a wholistic career development program for BYU student-athletes that will prepare them for life beyond BYU Athletics and help them capitalize on future name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities.

Built4Life is designed to support BYU student-athletes in developing critical life skills, facilitating professional development opportunities and connecting classroom learning directly to relevant employment opportunities. Built4Life is focused through four main pillars: learn, brand, work and love. 

“Here at BYU, we’re approaching NIL in a different way,” Holmoe said. “While many are looking at what NIL will mean for the fastest ways to get student-athletes’ paid, we’re in this for the long haul. We welcome our student-athletes to monetize their own personal brands, and make as much money as they can, but our Built4Life program revolves around a wholistic student-athlete development system with learning and employment opportunities that will benefit them far beyond their time as a student-athlete. This program aligns with our university’s culture of inspiring learning and is an outgrowth of the culture within our football program, thanks to Kalani’s vision of student-athlete development.”

You can find full Built4Life program information at BYUBuilt4Life.org.

With official NCAA NIL legislation details still in flux, the Built4Life program can function no matter what the NIL details look like. As those details are finalized, Built4Life will become the mechanism for educating student-athletes and business partners on compliant NIL integration. The Built4Life focus is on providing real-world work experience that is tailored to individual student-athletes, and those work experience connections can be the impetus for NIL opportunities. Student-athletes who are providing and receiving legitimate value through internships, already on an organization’s payroll, can then utilize the experience their receiving for NIL opportunities, such as sponsored social media posts or other marketing/advertising purposes, with the organization they are interning for.

Student-athletes can also leverage other connections within the vast Built4Life network, which features the founding partners of the Salt Lake Chamber, the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and Silicon Slopes.

Holmoe has appointed Gary Veron to oversee the Built4Life program in an associate athletic director role announced today.

“Built4Life, while encompassing ways to help student-athletes realize their NIL potential, is so much more than a NIL blueprint,” Veron said. “In many ways, Built4Life was created by student-athletes for student-athletes. It is a program that we will continually improve as we solicit regular feedback and input from our student-athletes.”

The heart of the Built4Life program is experiential learning opportunities through internships and mentorship.

This unique program is made possible thanks in large part to BYU being housed in what the Milken Institute has dubbed as the best-performing city economy in the nation and the U.S. News and World Report has named the best state economy in the nation. The vast amount of businesses and business leaders available in the Provo-Orem area and beyond, offers quality access and a myriad of opportunities for BYU student-athletes.

“It is an honor for the Salt Lake Chamber to join BYU as a founding partner of the Built4Life initiative,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, “and we look forward to working with BYU Athletics to ensure the program's success there and to assist its adoption by other universities that will embrace its principles, practices and innovation to serve student-athletes in laying a foundation for personal and professional success that will sustain them well beyond competitive athletics.”

A version of Built4Life has already been piloted by the BYU football program. As part of its player experience and career development efforts, the team has brought in a variety of guest speakers, developed individualized player experience plans and facilitated a variety of internship placements for its players. Numerous surveys and focus groups were used to ensure that the most important touch points relating to personal and professional development were appropriately addressed.

“Built4Life is the product of an extensive two-year exploration into the most important touch points influencing the student-athlete experience,” said Billy Nixon, BYU football director of player experience. “After reviewing feedback from student-athletes at BYU and those representing NCAA Division I institutions across the country, it is clear that personal and professional development continually tops the list.”

Built4Life moving forward will encompass all BYU teams and student-athletes.

“At the heart of Built4Life is our program's commitment to foster a culture of love and learning,” said Kalani Sitake, head BYU football coach, “while assisting student-athletes in laying the foundation required for personal and economic prosperity beyond athletics.” 

BYU has previously announced a partnership with Opendorse, to provide student-athletes with educational and content-creation resources to enhance personal and professional branding on all social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and LinkedIn. Opendorse will empower student-athletes with custom assessments of their current brand value and provide student-athletes with resources to maximize their name, image and likeness potential. Also, BYU Athletics communications and marketing staff members will assist in day-to-day education and execution for student-athletes regarding best practices in building a robust personal social media brand. 

“We’re thrilled to have resources available to help our student-athletes with personal social media branding and management,” said Jon McBride, BYU associate athletic director for communications and media strategy, “but we all understand that NIL is bigger than just social media. What your personal brand actually is, is more than just what’s on social media. What I love about Built4Life is what it offers as a wholistic personal branding container. Social media is one, powerful tool to communicate that brand, but Built4Life provides such important substance to help student-athletes really develop and refine what their brand is.”

While the Built4Life pillars of learn, brand and work relate to academic, communications, marketing and professional opportunities, a hallmark of the program is the pillar of love. While so many are speaking about what student-athletes and athletic departments can get from NIL, BYU Athletics wants to keep a focus on what its student-athletes can give. This emphasis is tied to BYU’s motto of “Enter to learn; Go forth to serve.” Student-athletes will be encouraged to build the community around them through service initiatives. BYU player experience staff will assist student-athletes with building their philanthropic brands by identifying and supporting causes of their choice. Resources will be provided for student-athletes who wish to create and launch a 501(c)(3) public charity and non-profit organizations.

Several BYU football players have already created nonprofit entities. Cash Peterman and Jacob Conover have started a non-profit that will raise money by selling and auctioning refurbished football helmets. With the money raised, the non-profit will help disadvantaged youth in the Utah and Salt Lake counties pay for athletics-related expenses, such as registration fees, equipment, apparel, etc. Peterman already has a large following on social media where he gives away customized refurbished football helmets.

Tyler Batty, Drew Jensen and Austin Riggs have created a non-profit based out of south Utah County that will provide equine therapy for special needs children. As someone who has been around horses his entire life, and has worked with special needs youth in the equine environment, Batty is excited to grow the footprint of a program that has already blessed the lives of many families.  

As more Built4Life developments happen and partnerships are made, see BYUBuilt4Life.org for the details.