Navigating NIL: How C.W. Urban Is Helping The Utes

May 5, 2022, 2:04 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm

Utah Gymnastics - Red Rocks - UCLA Bruins...

The Utah Utes celebrate defeating the UCLA Bruins 198.075 to 198.025 at Pauley Pavilion on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) has been a major buzz term in college athletics. In June of 2021, the NCAA passed that student athletes could start making money off their persona. Since then there has been a mad scramble for schools, their athletes, and the fans to understand the dos and don’ts of NIL. With three “guidelines” given by the NCAA, it has mostly been up to the people who want to be involved with NIL to interpret what exactly the “rules” are.

Some have taken a “better to ask for forgiveness than permission” approach. Others took their time to research state and federal law on the matter. Whether your school took a more guarded approach or went all in, one thing is for certain; NIL is here to stay and it only works if everyone understands it and buys in.

Why NIL Matters

The urgency to get NIL up and going at Utah got a little more real over the last week or so. Since then there have been some interesting headlines coming out alleging athletes having money offered to them to transfer to another school. One such athlete was said to be Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid as relayed by Rick Neuheisel.

A few weeks ago KSL Sports talked about how fan collectives like LockerRoom are one part of the NIL attack for the Utes.  Another leg of NIL for Utah that is still developing is having local businesses involved with their student athletes.

Who Is C.W. Urban?

The first major business to align themselves with University of Utah NIL is C.W. Urban. C.W. Urban is a Utah-based residential real estate developer who prides themselves on community work. Their founder, Colin Wright is a University of Utah alum. Darlene Carter is their CEO who graciously sat with KSL Sports to talk about C.W. Urban’s NIL deal with the Utes and how it came about.


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A post shared by C.W. URBAN (@c.w.urban)

Rocket Fuel: Getting Involved With NIL

When NIL became possible, Carter says as a company C.W. Urban saw an opportunity to help fuel high-achieving young people through their college careers. Carter emphasized throughout the interview the importance of giving back to the community and how doing NIL with student-athletes seemed like a logical choice since in turn they often become the next set of leaders in our communities.

“We are interested in putting ‘rocket fuel’ into young athletes who have really shown a history of excellence in impulse control,” Carter said. “Our definition of ‘impulse control’ is somebody who is willing to work really hard today for a future great result. College athletes put their minds and their bodies through hard things with the hopes of really being able to do what they love, and to win.”


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A post shared by Cameron Rising (@crising7)

Investing in education and helping to gain prominence through athletics was a no-brainer for C.W. Urban. The health of the city and community starts with its young people and so putting some resources toward the Utes’ NIL efforts made sense to them as a brand.

“We’ve been known as a champion of Salt Lake City and we think the University of Utah is really part of the heartbeat and blood flow of Salt Lake City,” Carter said. “While I don’t actually think athletes posting about us is going to help, if us contributing to athletics makes the university better, and the university helps Salt Lake City be better because of education and future growth then ultimately, we would be a beneficiary of that as well. We just love the marriage of the fact that we are a Salt Lake City homebuilder, and this is the university that is in the heart of our city that we love and that so many of our employees are alumni of.”


Respecting The Process

While there are a lot of unknowns currently surrounding NIL, there are some parameters that need to be followed. Carter says Utah has made it as easy as possible for a business to be involved in NIL with them, it’s just a matter of taking the initiative to ask questions and get the ball rolling.

“We contacted the University of Utah and found out what their rules were,” Carter said. “We enlisted legal counsel to make sure we followed specific rules. We created a contract, we went to the team we want to sponsor and let them know what the contract is and what we plan to do for them.”


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A post shared by Kara Eaker (@_karaeaker)

“One of the unique things we have done is three out of the four NIL deals we did are blanket for the entire team,” Carter continued. “We offered one to the entire football team, one to the entire beach volleyball team, and one to the entire gymnastics team. It’s up to the athlete if they want to engage in it, unfortunately international athletes are not allowed to.”

Easy As Possible

Carter says at C.W. Urban they understand how busy student-athletes are and have worked to come up with a plan to make earning NIL as easy as possible. For them, it is all about being able to show appreciation and throw a little encouragement the student-athletes’ way.

“Generally speaking, there has to be for any compensation given- they have to be required to do something,” Carter said. “We’ve made it as simple as possible and generally in addition to them signing a contract to make sure we comply with all of the rules and regulations, the easiest thing we can ask them to do is make a social media post. That’s the easiest way for us to stay compliant. We want to make it as pain-free for the athletes as possible because it’s really about us saying, ‘we see you and here is some gratitude to help you’.”

A Worthwhile Endeavor

Carter doesn’t think C.W. Urban will ever see a big bump in business because of their NIL deals with Utah and that’s not why they got involved anyway. They just wanted to help a group of people in the community be able to reach their full potential. However, Carter was taken by surprise at how much she’s actually gained from working with Utah’s student-athletes and thinks it’s been well worth it just to get to know some of the up-and-coming people in our community.


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A post shared by Stefanie Jankiewicz (@stefmj24)

“The coolest thing to me has been getting to know these people and just learning about their lives,” Carter said. “It’s been super rewarding to me to get to know them. I don’t think what we did helped them a ton, but it’s been very rewarding to me. I’ve been completely inspired by getting to know them. 100%. It’s been such a benefit to me learning their personal stories, what they have gone through to get to this point. It’s made me so grateful for the opportunity to get to know them. They are some of the coolest people out there.”

“For us it’s a complete give back,” Carter continued. “We feel it is our duty to give back to the community that has given us so much. We felt like this was a great way to do it. The university has given us some of our brightest, most talented employees. The university has made our city better. We really feel like if when we win, if we don’t share that with others we are not doing the right thing.”



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Navigating NIL: How C.W. Urban Is Helping The Utes