UNC and Duke partner with app to help athletes connect with businesses for NIL deals

North Carolina’s Caleb Love (2) drives around Dukes Jeremy Roach (3) during the first half of Dukes game against UNC in the Final Four at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, La., Saturday, April 2, 2022. (Ethan Hyman/ehyman@newsobserver.com)

As the NIL landscape continues to evolve in college sports, Duke and North Carolina athletes gained new tools this week to connect with businesses.

Both schools announced they’ve teamed with INFLCR, an app that’s among the products offered by Durham-based Teamworks, to create exchanges to facilitate deals between athletes and businesses.

UNC announced its Carolina NIL Exchange on Monday while Duke unveiled its Blue Devil Exchange on Thursday.

In both cases, the online portals are simply a place for athletes to connect with businesses and vice versa. In accordance with NCAA rules and state laws, neither the schools nor INFLCR will not be involved in any negotiations, both Duke and UNC announced.

“Since the inception of the NCAA’s new NIL regulations last summer, the goal has been to provide Duke student-athletes with the best tools to capitalize in the marketplace,” Duke athletics director Nina King said in a statement. “Through the great partnership between Duke and INFLCR, we’re excited to launch the Blue Devil Exchange as a one-stop resource for businesses and sponsors to connect directly with our student-athletes. This technology allows our student-athletes to enhance their personal brand, market themselves and provides the resources and education for success in the NIL space.”

Last summer, under pressure from state lawmakers around the nation and having lost various court cases, the NCAA changed its rules to allow athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness without losing eligibility under amateurism rules.

UNC partnered with three companies to help its athletes with NIL-related issues, using INFLCR for brand building and social media expertise. UNC also partnered with BrandR Group to establish a group licensing program for its current and former athletes.

This week’s Carolina NIL Exchange adds to the school’s offerings.

“We appreciate expanding our partnership with INFLCR with the addition of the Carolina NIL Exchange, because it allows us to help our student-athletes expand their NIL opportunities,’‘ UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “Making connections is key to finding those opportunities, and having a central marketplace where student-athletes can engage directly with businesses is key. This is another outstanding addition to our extensive NIL program.”

Anyone seeking to sign an athlete to an NIL deal must apply for access to the UNC or Duke exchange. Compliance departments maintain control over who is approved for access.

All athletes at both schools automatically have access.

The INFLCR app allows for direct communication between the athletes and businesses, provides a payment processing tool and creates an IRS 1099 form for tax compliance.

INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale is Teamworks’ chief innovation officer. More than 250 college and professional teams use INFLCR services.

Teamworks, founded by former Duke offensive lineman Zach Maurides in 2004, works with more than 4,000 college teams plus professional teams across the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.