Nike Founder Phil Knight and Former Swoosh Executives Launch NIL Firm to Help Student Athletes Manage Brand Deals

A group of Nike alumnae and other prominent Oregon residents on Thursday launched Division Street Inc., a new venture to help student athletes at the University of Oregon maximize their branding opportunities.

Division Street will assist student athletes to monetize their brands via name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities. The company’s launch comes shortly after a new set of state and NCAA rules went into effect in July allowing college athletes to profit from selling rights to their NIL. This legislation permits student athletes to sell and profit from their own brands independent from their institutions.

Rosemary St. Clair, a former Nike VP and GM of Nike women, will serve as the CEO of the company, and former Nike VP of sports marketing Rudy Chapa will serve as chairman of the board. Nike co-founder Phil Knight also helped launch the company.

“Division Street has put together an extremely capable group to deal with the fast-changing landscape of NIL,” Knight said in a release. “Led by Rosemary and Rudy, I am confident they will bring innovation and creativity to this new world.”

Oregon donors Pat Kilkenny, Ed Maletis, Jim Morse and the Papé Family Foundation are also involved in the company’s leadership team. To navigate the brand marketing and digital experience, Division Street will work with the recently founded sports marketing firm Adopt, also created by former Nike executives, David Creech, Nicole Graham and Josh Moore.

“Division Street’s founding strength is the Oregon brand itself, which has always been about innovation, audacity and culture,” St. Clair said. “Our goal in this chaotic new world of NIL marketing is to elevate the athlete experience by bringing in leading expertise across brand, marketing, sponsorship, digital and creative to support all University of Oregon student-athletes, inclusive of every sport and across gender.”

Former Oregon basketball star athlete Sabrina Ionescu will serve as Division Street’s chief athlete officer, where she will advise the team on how to best promote the athlete’s voice in every project. Ionescu will also advise student-athletes at Oregon on navigating their partnerships and marketing opportunities via quarterly seminars.

“As an athlete navigating the world of brand and partnerships myself, I see a real opportunity to provide today’s college players more professional counsel as they grapple with the new NIL landscape,” Ionescu said. “I’m excited that Division Street also sees that need and is bringing together an all-star team to address this for Oregon. I’m also very passionate about ensuring diversity in gender and sport, and that will be part of my focus in this new role.”

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