“I’m excited to use this knowledge to give back to athletes at my alma mater,” Division Street Chief Athlete Officer Sabrina Ionescu told Boardroom.
Oregon athletics has always been at the forefront of the brand marketing conversation in college sports (it may not be possible to count the sheer volume of alternate uniforms the Ducks football team has). And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change in the NCAA’s name, image, and likeness era.
University alumni and donors have teamed up to launch Division Street, Inc., a venture aimed to help Oregon student-athletes create and monetize their personal brands. Division Street will work across all sports and be available to each of the more than 500 Oregon student-athletes.
New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu and Nike co-founder Phil Knight are among the big names behind the new venture. The athletic apparel giant is headquartered in Beaverton, about 100 miles from Eugene, and has long had a unique relationship with the university.
Division Street’s CEO, naturally, is a former Nike executive herself, Rosemary St. Clair. St. Clair previously served as VP and GM of Nike Women. Meanwhile, former Nike VP of Sports Marketing Rudy Chapa will serve as chairman of the board.
“What we feel like is a big differentiator to everything else that’s out there is we are athlete first. To the core,” St. Clair said. “Student-athletes have a full plate. We don’t want to take away or add more to their assignments or their coursework. We want to help monetize those brands.”
Division Street plans to do that by educating Oregon athletes on building their brands, navigating partnerships, expanding their digital presences, offering creative counsel, and more.
Of course, it always helps to have a recent student-athlete on board who can relate to current Ducks and tap into their questions, concerns, and wishes.
Enter Ionescu, a 2020 Oregon grad and the No. 1 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty.
“I have a recent perspective on what [Oregon athletes] may be experiencing as a college athlete and so now I’m in a position to be able to advocate for them with brands and in the marketplace,” Ionescu told Boardroom. “Having played for University of Oregon, this is another way for me to highlight Oregon athletes.”
Ionescu will serve as Division Street’s Chief Athlete Officer and will be charged with keeping the athletes’ voices at the center of the company’s work. This will include hosting quarterly seminars to share her experiences with the next generation of Ducks and offer help in growing players’ personal brands.
She knows a thing or two about branding — she’s got the best-selling jersey in the WNBA this year.
“The last two years have really allowed me to get a better understanding of how to build my brand,” Ionescu said. “I’m excited to use this knowledge to give back to athletes at my alma mater.”
In addition, Division has partnered with Adopt, a minority-owned brand and creative company focused on athletes and sport. The Adopt team will bring additional expertise to the venture, including former Oregon wide receiver and Jordan Brand executive Garren Strong.