GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina Athletics has launched the SABRE program in an educational partnership with The Miller School of Entrepreneurship to prepare its student-athletes with a comprehensive collection of resources to capitalize on the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation that is anticipated to be passed by the NCAA.

The SABRE – Student Athlete Brand Resource Education – was created by members of the ECU Athletics administration including compliance, student-athlete development, marketing, media relations and Pirate Club staff. The goal of SABRE is to serve all student-athletes by providing education and resources related to financial literacy, personal branding, entrepreneurship, content management, social media strategies, media training, taxes, and compliance. In addition to the educational platform, SABRE will have mentorship and networking opportunities for student-athletes to learn more from successful professionals and former student-athletes.

“Out student-athletes, they are who we serve. Their experience at ECU is our ultimate goal; to make sure that they are getting the best experience as student-athletes,” said Alex Keddie, Senior Associate Athletics Director of Compliance. “When legislation changes and there are items within the government change, what we can do is provide a skillset, so they understand that if they do have an employment opportunity, they understand the taxes, the financial literacy and budgeting aspect.”

During these sessions, student-athletes will learn about the “Four E’s”:

  • Education on available resources;
  • Evaluating existing brand;
  • Expanding entrepreneurial knowledge; and
  • Empowerment to grow brand.

“We are excited about the establishment of the SABRE program which is a comprehensive approach to how we can educate and provide the necessary resources to help our student-athletes maximize their brand,” ECU Athletics Director Jon Gilbert said. “The partnership with the Miller School of Entrepreneurship gives us a unique opportunity for our student-athletes to increase their individual value on social media and understand the process of becoming their own business. We have great partnerships with the university that will give our student-athletes a road map and resources to learn more about branding, entrepreneurship, marketing plans, financial literacy and tax management and licensing.”

The East Carolina College of Business established the first school of entrepreneurship in the region in 2015 following a significant commitment by a Raleigh area entrepreneur, J. Fielding Miller, and his wife, Kim Grice Miller. The Miller School of Entrepreneurship is one of only seven named undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the country.

“We are making sure we are putting together the right pieces and the right partnerships to make sure we have the right products,” said Keddie. “Our student athletes are excited to learn about these skillsets and then hopefully they can take what they learn and use it in the real world.”

ECU students can earn a multidisciplinary entrepreneurship certificate with four courses. The classes are designed to help anyone who may operate a for-profit or nonprofit business or those interested in careers with small/medium-sized firms, family businesses or entrepreneurial corporations. Educational workshops, group and one-on-one meetings will be conducted with student-athletes.

“The Miller School of Entrepreneurship is the entrepreneurial hub for students across our campus, and we are excited to work closely with the Department of Athletics to help students learn more about the entrepreneurial process,” Director of the Miller School of Entrepreneurship Michael Harris said. “Our entrepreneurship degree, entrepreneurship certificate, and specialized programs can help prepare our student-athletes for any entrepreneurial opportunities that come their way.”

TowneBank, which made a generous leadership gift for naming rights to ECU’s Southside Renovation Project at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, will provide money management resources for student-athletes and in-person educational sessions.

“This is an exciting opportunity to support our student athletes at East Carolina University,” TowneBank of Greenville President Greg Steele shared.” Managing personal finances is a lifelong journey, and TowneBank is proud to partner with these young men and women to be a resource during this stage in their lives. ECU’s SABRE program gives life skills to student athletes to make the most of their undergraduate education and to prepare them to be good citizens beyond campus life. The program closely aligns with TowneBank’s focus on being a community asset and encouraging others to do the same.”

Student-athletes should have numerous opportunities in the local community and surrounding region. While major cities rely on professional athletes and celebrities to promote businesses, Greenville is a city captivated by ECU Athletics. The city and region have shown consistent support and loyalty for the Pirates and this will certainly continue.

Bri Wood
“I’m excited that myself and fellow student-athletes will be provided an opportunity with the NIL legislation to capitalize on our brands and benefit from opportunities now instead of waiting until our eligibility is done,” ECU volleyball senior Bri Wood said. “The administration, compliance, marketing and student-development team are very supportive and have spent a considerable amount of time to ensure we have a program such as SABRE that will not only help us right now but also long term. Having a support system and working with The Miller School of Entrepreneurship on campus will give us a valuable education as we all choose our career paths. I’m excited to expand my education on personal brand, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and have these tools as I enter the workforce soon.”

Holton Ahlers
“This is exciting for all student-athletes across the country,” ECU quarterback and Greenville native Holton Ahlers added. “Our administration is going to put us in the best possible position for success with the SABRE program and give us the resources to enhance our personal brand. As a native of this community, I understand what being a Pirate means and the passion our fans have for the Purple and Gold. The NIL legislation will help all student-athletes now benefit from their personal brand and prepare for the next step in their journey with an education from a group of experts in their field.”