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New NIL fund launched to handle NIL opportunities with UK athletes

Big news for UK Athletics!

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

With the early signing period now here, UK Athletics just got a game-changer in the growing world of NIL.

The Virtus Brand, an independent player management company that’s already been involved with NIL deals with UK athletes, has partnered with an organization called The Big Blue Legacy to manage NIL funds for athletes in all of UK’s 29 men’s and women’s sports programs through The 15 Fund, according to a press release.

Here is the release:

Prominent business leaders from across the Commonwealth and beyond have united to create The Big Blue Legacy, an organization that will allow business leaders to support the University of Kentucky student-athlete NIL opportunities through pledging to “The 15 Fund”. The 15 Fund, its name derived from the fact that Kentucky was the 15th state added to the union, will have a board of directors composed of former University of Kentucky athletes and will be led by Fred Johnson, CEO of The Virtus Brand. With 28 years of experience within the financial services industry, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the management team. Johnson, along with the board will oversee the allocation of NIL funds with the goal of creating a marketplace to support all 29 of Kentucky’s men’s and women’s varsity sports programs. “Through the wonderful generosity of business leaders, we are fortunate enough to be able to greatly impact the level of support the student-athlete receives at the University of Kentucky.”

The Big Blue Legacy will work with The Virtus Brand, to facilitate the NIL process. The Virtus Brand, with no affiliation to the University of Kentucky, is a team of leaders from various industries who have a shared vision to help the student-athlete, businesses, and universities to navigate and leverage the new college sports landscape. Co-founder Ryan Miller is excited about the partnership, “The recent changes to laws allowing for student-athletes to be compensated for their Name, Image, and Likeness present an opportunity to reward the University of Kentucky student-athletes, across their 29 women’s and men’s varsity sports teams. The Virtus team is leading the charge to provide the most comprehensive level of protection for all parties involved.”

Tom Bower, Co-Founder of The Virtus Brand “The 15 Fund enables the commonwealth to show how much they care about these student-athletes. It’s a dream come true for me to see the student-athlete being rewarded for all their hard work through NIL. The 15 Fund allows that to happen based upon their market value. The University of Kentucky is a gold standard in many ways; The 15 Fund in combination with Virtus helps keep everyone safe and affords the opportunity to do NIL at the highest level. We look forward to working with current and future supporters of the Big Blue Legacy.”