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UNC Hooper Deja Kelly is a Professor of NILOSOPHY

North Carolina guard Deja Kelly will host NILOSOPHY, a show from BYUS Media focusing on college athletes’ stories in the NIL space.

Deja Kelly wants to learn more about NIL. Not the X’s and O’s around scoring deals, however — she has plenty of experience there and her own “mom-ager” to answer any questions in the meantime. Rather, she wants to know more about her fellow athletes’ journeys through the burgeoning name, image, and likeness marketplace.

At a time when NIL valuations and flashy brand deals command the headlines, the North Carolina senior guard was tired of seeing reporters ask surface-level questions to athletes who would give surface-level answers. As she knows, those big-name NIL superstars are anything but superficial and both fans and athletes alike could benefit from hearing their stories.

That’s the driver behind NILOSOPHY, a new digital series that Kelly will host as part of the college athlete-driven content production company BYUS Media.

“This is a no-brainer for something for me to be a part of and to be able to host,” Kelly told Boardroom. “I think it’s super exciting to help these other athletes just tell a different side of everything that goes into NIL and the whole process.”

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UCLA gymnast Jordan Chiles will be her first guest and the two will dive into how an Olympian manages her brand partnership opportunities. That episode debuts Aug. 8, with future guests lined up including Flau’jae Johnson (LSU women’s basketball), Armando Bacot (UNC men’s basketball), Gradey Dick (Toronto Raptors, formerly of Kansas men’s basketball), and Cameron Brink (Stanford women’s basketball).

Notably, this isn’t Kelly’s first foray into sports media. She’s a broadcast journalism student at Chapel Hill and works on the university’s student-led sports show, Sports Xtra.

That, combined with her prior NIL experience, makes her BYUS’s ideal candidate to host NILOSOPHY.

Image courtesy of BYUS Media

“NIL isn’t only about money,” BYUS co-founder and sports media entrepreneur Olivia Hancock said. “It provides college athletes with the chance to take ownership of their lives and inspire the next generation. That’s why Deja, a pioneer in NIL, is the perfect person to lead this conversation.”

As part of Kelly’s role with BYUS — an NIL deal in itself — she will be an equity partner in the company that Hancock and former NFL player Chris Borland founded. That part matters to Kelly. She’s becoming the first in her family to build wealth in college and is looking toward the future.

“When you hear equity, you think long-term,” she said. “I’m 21 years old, and being able to have some equity while in school, while playing basketball while also going to school is huge. And again, that definitely contributes a great amount to building that generational wealth.”

Kelly doesn’t claim to have all the answers, though, and that’s part of the reason the show intrigues her. Using Chiles as an example, she said, “I [didn’t] know much about her NIL experience, actually. ‘Tell me about your NIL process. Tell me about how having all of this success in gymnastics, how does that translate to the business side for you?'”

You can find that out next Tuesday, Aug. 8, when the first episode of NILOSOPHY will be available on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. The audio-only version can be found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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About The Author
Russell Steinberg
Russell Steinberg
Russell Steinberg is an editor and writer at Boardroom. He came to the brand in 2021 with a decade of experience in sports journalism, primarily covering college basketball at SB Nation as a writer, reporter, and blog manager. In a previous life, he worked as a social media strategist and copywriter, handling accounts ranging from sports retail to luxury hotels and financial technology. Though he has mastered the subtweet, he kindly requests you @ him next time.