Arizona Athletics Launches 5980 Fund For Student-Athlete Support

TUCSON, Ariz. – Beginning in Fall of 2022, University of Arizona student-athletes will be eligible for up to $5,980 in supplemental academic aid through the athletic department's newly established "5980 Fund". Arizona Athletics will commit financial resources to the fund as part of its ongoing Commitment to an Athletes Total Success (CATS) program after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Alston vs. NCAA case. Eligibility is based on good academic performance, meeting all NCAA eligibility requirements and embracing Arizona's Wildcat Way core values.

"This new academic benefit for our student-athletes is the latest addition to our ongoing commitment to our mission to develop academic, athletic and life champions," said Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. "Arizona Athletics continues to lead from the front in supporting Wildcats with our championship standard for our student-athlete experience. The establishment of our "5980 Fund" raises our standard by providing additional resources for Wildcat student-athletes' academic performance."

The Supreme Court's ruling paved the way for institutions to provide student-athletes with additional education-related benefits and direct financial support in the form of academic achievement, up to the legally established maximum of $5,980 per year.

The "5980 Fund" is the most recent of initiatives launched by the athletics department to bolster its first-class experience for all student-athletes in response to the everchanging landscape of college athletics. The Wildcat Club, the athletics department's development unit, is fundraising for the "5980 Fund", and you can give to the Wildcat Club by clicking here.

Arizona launched its Arizona EDGE program in 2021 as its in-house platform for Name, Image and Likeness that partnered directly with INFLCR. The partnership helped Arizona become the first school in the Pac-12 Conference to launch its own portal, the Arizona EDGE Marketplace, with INFLCR that connects the business community directly with student-athletes on brand-focused activities, provided they are within legal protocols and follow the University of Arizona NIL protocols and are approved in advance by the Arizona Compliance department.

In addition to the Friends of Wilbur & Wilma collective and the Arizona Assist Club, opportunities for supporting external NIL initiatives for Arizona student-athletes now also include the BPS Foundation, which is a non-profit 501© (3) organization formed by Blueprint Sports to educate, encourage and assist student-athletes in their efforts to engage with the local community through charitable causes. For more information about the BPS Foundation, please click here.

"Arizona Athletics continues to support initiatives that impact all student-athletes and enhance the experience of the outstanding women and men who represent the University of Arizona in competition, the classroom and Southern Arizona community," Heeke said. "Our athletics department's Wildcat Way mission and strategic initiatives are deeply rooted in this flagship institution and the tremendous community that supports our student-athletes."

Nate Brown

General Manager

Nate Brown is the General Manager of Zags Collective, leading the charge to help amplify the opportunities for the Gonzaga student-athletes through NIL partnerships with local charities, fans and businesses. With over a decade of experience in the professional sports industry and as a former business owner in Spokane, Nate is a seasoned professional who knows what it takes to succeed. Most recently, he served as the National Sales Director for a prominent west-coast real estate company, where he was responsible for driving growth and retention. With a deep understanding of sales and marketing, Nate brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and is always seeking innovative ways to drive revenue and create partnerships.With a passion for ensuring the success of student-athletes both on and off the field, Nate is dedicated to providing the necessary resources to keep Gonzaga competitive on the national stage. He understands the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with the community and local businesses, and works to maximize opportunities for Gonzaga’s student-athletes. As the son of two Gonzaga alumni, including a father who was a baseball pitcher and also a coach for the school, Nate has a great connection to the university and a passion for ensuring its continued success. Outside of work, Nate enjoys spending time with family, including his wife Jessica and their 16-year-old daughter Brooklynn and 12-year-old son Marcus. When not working or spending time with family, you can find Nate at any one of the amazing golf courses in Spokane, honing his swing!

Mike Smith

General Manager

Mike Smith joined Micconope 1851 in March 2023 and is excited to be the General Manager and looks forward to working with Blueprint Sports increase NIL revenue generation for Florida State University student-athletes. Smith comes to Micconope 1851 from Catawba College where he held the title as the Senior Director of Athletics, Development. Prior to working in Athletics at Catawba College, Mike served as the Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at Charleston Southern University. Smith has an impressive background in the collegiate athletics industry, having held senior level development and corporate sponsorship sales roles at The University of Southern Mississippi, Limestone University, the Sun Belt Conference, Florida Atlantic University, and with multimedia rights-holders Tele South Communications at the University of Mississippi, Learfield Sports at UNC Chapel Hill, and with International Sports Properties at Georgia Tech. Smith is a graduate of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and holds a master’s degree in Business Management from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his new role here at Micconppe 1851, Smith will be responsible for raising major gifts for NIL deals as well as securing NIL corporate sponsorships for Florida State University student-athletes. Mike looks forward to helping ensure the FSU student-athletes have the resources and leadership opportunities to remain competitive nationally and positioned for success well beyond graduation. Mike is married to Katy Smith; the couple looks forward to relocating to Tallahassee, Florida, and becoming a part of the Micconope 1851 and Seminole family!

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