Nika Mühl had seen the posts from UConn fans. She was blown away by the number of people tagging her and sending messages, all expressing their excitement to buy her newly launched apparel.
Eager to interact with the fan base, Mühl often replied something along the lines of, “Oh my God, thank you! That’s amazing. Show a picture of it when you’re wearing it.”
But the reality of it all didn’t fully sink in until the Big East Tournament when Mühl glanced into the stands at Mohegan Sun Arena. There were Husky faithful wearing merchandise to support the Croatian guard in every direction she looked.
“It’s so rewarding, it’s so crazy,” Mühl said. “I didn’t think the outreach was gonna be that big. It definitely humbles you and just makes me want to work harder and make all those people proud watching us in the stands every day. It was amazing seeing them in my jersey, in my shirt, just having my last name on their backs. It’s a special feeling.”
For the first time, fans can cheer on UConn men’s and women’s basketball in the NCAA Tournament while wearing their favorite player’s jersey or other officially licensed apparel.
Legislation signed by the state of Connecticut to usher in the new name, image and likeness era of college athletics back in 2021 didn’t allow student-athletes to use their school’s branding and marks, but that changed this past summer.
By late November, UConn teamed up with Athlete’s Thread to sell officially licensed player apparel and even found a way to include international players. The athletic department has created more options for players in the months since through partnerships with Breaking T and Campus Ink, which runs the UConn NIL Store.
“It’s a really interesting time for (student-athletes) and a realization for many of them just how powerful their personal brand is, and how their personal brand and the institution’s brand (are) when put together,” UConn Director of Brand Partnerships and Trademark Management Kyle Muncy told the Courant. “It’s a chance for them to generate a little bit of income, but also it’s a chance for fans to show support for those student-athletes in a way that they’ve never been able to before.”
How it all works
This past fall, Muncy met with student-athletes across every sport and gave presentations on the new NIL…
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