If you’re looking for inspiration in college athlete development, look no further than LSU. From launching the NILSU program to resource LSU college athletes around NIL opportunities to its Tiger Life initiative, which guides students around personal enhancement and personal development, LSU is innovating for the 21st century college athlete. Most recently, the LSU football program hosted its inaugural “LSU Life Beyond the Game Symposium,” which provided team members an opportunity to network with 21 employers during three, 20-minute roundtable networking windows.
Employers included Fortune 500 companies, like Coca-Cola, Northwestern Mutual and The Hershey Company. Organizers “targeted companies who were willing to host players for either a full-day shadow or one-week, condensed internship experience,” given the demands on football players’ summer schedules that limit their abilities to engage in traditional internship schedules.
“The LSU Life Beyond the Game Symposium seemed to be an excellent event for student-athletes,” remarked The Lemoine Company’s Terrence Mackey. “It provided them with crucial resources, information, and networking opportunities to start thinking about their lives beyond football.”
The event also gave an opportunity for those present to learn more about NIL. “With the launch of NIL into the college athlete experience, we also wanted to provide space for athletes to engage with those employers who are interested, or could have potential interest, in NIL opportunities,” said Kyle O’Neal, the Associate Director of Employer Development & Relations at LSU.
A new coach and a dedicated donor fostered the space for the event to come about.
Michael Olinde, a major donor to LSU and its career center, has “long wanted to see [LSU] student-athletes get the career assistance they need to help them advance,” said O’Neal.
The arrival of Brian Kelly on campus has shifted the culture of the program toward such opportunities. “There hadn’t been a spirit of cooperation from inside the football operations department until Coach Kelly’s arrival,” O’Neal remarked. “Once Coach Kelly arrived in Baton Rouge, he made it known amongst his staff that this was a priority to him and they had the green light to pursue options of bringing career development opportunities to the football student-athletes.”
“The Life Beyond the Game Symposium gave our football student-athletes an opportunity to network with Fortune 500 companies and business leaders from around the country. We want to continue to provide a platform that fosters opportunity for our student-athletes to excel on and off of the field,” said Dr. DF Arnold, the Assistant Director of Player Development for LSU Football, and Ira Childress, the Assistant Athletic Director for Player Relations at LSU Football.
79 of the team’s 95 players on the roster at the time of the event attended. Eight of the 16 who missed the event were in class.
O’Neal reports that companies have already begun inviting LSU football college athletes to their facilities. Students continue engaging with the corporate connections they made at the event. Companies have also expressed their intentions to bring more college athletes on board for condensed internships and shadow days.
“This has been a long time coming at LSU,” said O’Neal. “Our office for years has longed for an opportunity like this to come along where we could really impact our student-athletes, but until Coach Kelly arrived, the support just hadn’t been there. Knowing that this matters to Coach and his staff really inspired the team [at the career center] to push ourselves to make sure we delivered.”
Get the free weekly newsletter so you can win the game.