Clearcover is the first auto insurance company to ink endorsement deals with NCAA student-athletes following a recent Supreme Court decision. The insurer is offering $10,000-per-player and signed its first athlete.
The sponsorship is not limited to one particular sport, but rather focuses on athletes with unique stories and journeys, the insurer said in a news release. Clearcover CEO and co-founder Kyle Nakatsuji battled through two torn ACLs in high school to walk on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh football teams.
The Supreme Court ruled June 21 that the NCAA could not limit the earnings of college athletes. The decision opens the door for athletes to earn money off their likeness and autograph signings, as well as a host of other activities and potential deals.
“We’re excited to partner with NCAA student-athletes, specifically underdogs and walk-ons, to bring recognition to these resilient players,” said Nakatsuji. “When we started Clearcover, we knew we were entering an industry that’s been dominated by powerful incumbents. So, we had to embrace the idea of being an underdog, and we still do today—it’s one of our core values. Our team knows what it looks like to face adversity with courage and tenacity, and to put in the behind-the-scenes effort each day to play the long game—and win.”
The first Clearcover athlete is Tailon Leitzsey, a senior on the University of Illinois football team. Leitzsey is a defensive back who slept in his car across the street from Memorial Stadium while fighting for a walk-on spot as a sophomore in 2018. He worked two jobs over the course of three seasons with the Fighting Illini before earning a full scholarship this April from Head Coach Bret Bielema. Leitzsey earned a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and has a nine-month-old daughter, Kairi.
"I know firsthand that walk-ons and underdogs are some of the most resilient, passionate, and dedicated athletes out there. There’s a lot of sweat and hard work involved without a lot of glory—or even support, in some cases," Nakatsuji added. “So we're going to find these types of college athletes and honor their hard work and dedication.”
Clearcover is partnering with Opendorse, the industry-leading athlete endorsement marketplace, that is currently used by over 30,000 college athletes. Clearcover will use the platform to source athletes and manage deals from pitch to payment. Athletes will be invited to complete an application process to share their background and tell their underdog story. Individuals who embody what it means to be an underdog and best represent the brand will be selected.