North Carolina football players can learn more about building their personal brand and prepare for a career after their playing years with the program’s new Bill Koman Game Plan for Success and its Blueprint 919 branding initiative.
Bill Koman Game Plan for Success
The Game Plan for Success is a career-oriented development program that aids athletes for life after college by teaching them to build their personal brand.
It is broken down into four quarters, with a Pregame segment to assist recruits to reflect the four-year college football experience: Pregame (Be The One), First Quarter (Be A Good Tar Heel), Second Quarter (Be A Good Teammate), Third Quarter (Be A Good Position Leader) and Fourth Quarter (Be A Good Front-Line Leader).
“Your best three players on the team may make some money out of their name," head coach Mack Brown said in a press conference. "... But we’re worried about the backup right guard, and the 13th corner. The biggest thing we’re trying to do is stay ahead of name, image and likeness.”
The Koman Game Plan for Success was built on a $15 million gift from Jim and Jennifer Koman in memory of Jim’s late father Bill, who was a former UNC and NFL linebacker.
Ochuko Jenije, director of student-athlete development for UNC football, explained the development model as teaching players “what leaders are, how to be a leader and what leaders are doing.”
To develop through this four-year plan, the initiative includes 15 areas of focus such as financial literacy, networking, community service, sexual assault and violence prevention and internships. The players carry out these areas of focus by attending career fairs, utilizing the FOCUS-2 planning resource, participating in NFL e-learning through workshops about professional skills, using the Odyssey Plan to design life timelines after college and more.
“It gives you a head start so that when you hang up the pads, the helmet and the cleats, you’re not scrambling to figure out what you want to do with your life,” Jenije said.
Coupled with the Koman Plan is the Blueprint 919 branding initiative, which helps the athletes identify their own personal brand.
To develop college athlete images and target audience recognition, Blueprint 919 has a specific focus on social media education. Tutorials on media training, public speaking and social media execution assist the players on communicating effectively to refine their external presences.
Blueprint 919’s speaker series gives players access to professionals in the fields of media and branding in athletics. ESPN's Booger McFarland and Maria Taylor, Charlotte Hornets President and Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield and Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning were some of the professionals who spoke this past year.
“The University of North Carolina is a national brand," Billy High, assistant athletic director and director of recruiting, said. "... These student-athletes have the opportunity now not only to get trained, but to have the instant recognition through the University of North Carolina. Your brand is who you are as a person and who people perceive you as, and it’s our job to help prepare the players for that next phase in their lives.”
Corey Holliday, Rick Steinbacher, Tommy Thigpen, Dré Bly, Kevin Donnalley and Dwight Hollier are just a few members of the UNC athletics administration who previously played for Brown and have returned to Carolina to take on new careers.
Through the Koman Game Plan for Success and Blueprint 919 branding initiative, Jenije said the UNC football program hopes to prepare its athletes for a successful career with or without football.
“It’s not a four-year decision; it’s a 40-year decision," Jenije said. "When you decide to spend four years at Carolina, you’ll be taken care of for the next 40+ years."
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