EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The college sports landscape has changed drastically over the last few months.
The NCAA recently changed their rules so that starting July 1, all student-athletes can profit from their “name, image, and likeness,” also known as NIL.
Programs around the nations have been trying to figure out ways to stay ahead of the curve ever since.
One person who has been on the forefront of that is former Michigan State linebacker Darien Harris. Nowadays, Harris is the director of player engagement for the Spartans.
Harris said second year football coach Mel Tucker has given him the full green light on any project he thinks will help grow his players.
“Back in the Spring actually, we started a partnership with the Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, mainly because Coach Tucker believes in off the field development for his players,” Harris said. “We want to use our campus resources. We want to really bridge the gap between athletics and academics.”
Desiree Melfi Bozzo works for the Burgess Institute and has sort of helped direct the ship on this project.
So far, they’ve had a handful of sessions on Zoom and one in person, with more to come.
“You know it’s always wonderful working with our students and our student athletes are students first,” Melfi Bozzo said. “So meeting them in the classroom and being able to engage with them in ways that are relevant to them, it was really, really nice.”
Recent rule changes have made the entrepreneurship classes even more relevant.
“Not just can our students profit off of endorsements, advertisements and social media, but they can also start their own business while they’re a student athlete,” Harris said.
“As humans we gravitate towards things that our relevant to us right now, right? But the other piece is what we’re really teaching them is the Entrepreneurial mindset,” Melfi Bozzo said.
Having played there so recently, Harris said his players know he won’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t.
He wants his guys to maximize their time and opportunities while they’re at Michigan State.
“You never know who you’re going to see down the road, so get to know everyone in your class, get to know your professors, participate in these opportunities because it’s all going to come back around full circle,” Harris said.
Michigan State will kick off their season Friday night against Northwestern at 9:00 p.m.