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ISU Ambassador works to bring ISU student-athlete visions to life

Written by on March 30, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – As of July 2021, college athletes were allowed to sign deals based on their name, image, and likeness for compensation.

Many athletes create merchandise to sell or work on building their brand to make a name for themselves. Illinois State University junior, Abbie Choi, works with ISU athletes to help them obtain sponsorships and explains what this opportunity entails. 

“I’m actually part of a program here at ISU called Visualize Ambassadors, and it’s run by Maya Bulger, who’s the Director of Name, Image, and Likeness,” said Choi. “She helps athletes understand the rules, making sure that they are not breaking any rules because there are a lot of rules for athletes to be able to make money.”

Choi among other ambassadors are the primary assistants for Bulger

So, we are basically Maya’s helpers because there are a lot of athletes here at ISU, and she obviously can’t help them all.”

When Choi accepted the internship for Visualize Ambassadors, an opportunity to combine her passions worked out perfectly. Now she can work with athletes to build their brand in a different way. 

“I also actually work for a custom printing company as well,” said Choi. “They also work with athletes to create NIL deals through merchandise. So, it was perfect because I got people helping me at Campus Inc making this merch and making this deal come to life. It really came through being able to put my two passions together: working with Campus Inc. and working with athletes on their name, image, and likeness to make merchandise.”

Choi didn’t always picture herself working with athletes, but when she was allowed to do so, she couldn’t pass it up.

“Coming into college, I did not think I wanted to work with athletes, I was literally a social work major. But going through my years of college, I have found a huge liking for sports. When I got this opportunity, I literally jumped on it, and I was super excited when I found out I got into the Visualize Ambassadors program, so I think being able to be part of that is something that is also really motivating me to work in sports when I graduate.”

As Choi’s college career is coming to a close a little early, she has some goals that she hopes to achieve as she continues working alongside athletes.

“I am actually graduating a semester early. This summer, I am actually a Name, Image, and Likeness intern for Custom Inc. at their Chicago office. One of my goals is to learn more about the industry and the rules, why the NCAA is so strict about these rules, and how athletes can make so much money just through their name, image, and likeness.”