The Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Connecticut (UConn) today announced that Rudy Gay, professional basketball player for the NBA’s Utah Jazz, has joined its Championship Labs Advisory Board, lending his name and support as the face of the university’s innovative initiative to empower student-athletes as they maximize their name, image, and likeness (NIL).
Together with a group of former Husky athletes and influential alumni businesses leaders, Gay will provide strategic guidance to the recently formed Championship Labs. A first-of-its-kind program, Championship Labs educates and inspires student-athletes to become entrepreneurs to their NIL through education, support, mentorship, and partnerships. Providing industry expertise through The Werth Institute’s award-winning programs, advisors work one-on-one with students to create a blueprint to monetize their personal brand while empowering them with the skillsets of an entrepreneur.
“I step on the court with one thing on my mind – to win the game as a team,” said Gay. “Good things have always come from that, as a Husky and in the NBA. I’m proud to be able to share my experience as an entrepreneur, personality, and professional athlete with the next generation of Huskies as they prepare for the next steps in their careers. I wish I had an opportunity to grow and get a start on my off the court pursuits when I was at UConn in this impactful way.”
The NBA veteran was a star forward for the UConn Huskies from 2004-2006. He earned Big East All-Freshman team honors his first season and was one of four Naismith Player of the Year finalists his sophomore year. Gay declared for the draft after that season and was taken No. 8 overall by the Houston Rockets then immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. He then spent the next seven years in Memphis, establishing himself as one of the premier scoring and play-making small forwards in the league. After a short stint in Toronto, Gay spent four seasons each with the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs before joining the Jazz in 2021.
Founding members of the Advisory Board include Lorin Dixon, founder and CEO of ZaveryCakes; Amy Errett, CEO and founder of Madison Reed; Brian Krause, chief development officer for Focus Brands; Joss Tillard-Gates, director of community affairs for Clark Construction Group; Aaron Torres, Fox Sports Radio host and owner of Aaron Torres Media; and Michael Woodward, Focus Brands‘ senior vice president for Franchise Sales.
“Rudy joining our board is a significant advancement in the execution of UConn’s revolutionary NIL strategy,” said Werth Institute Director David Noble. “The launch of Championship Labs has made it clear that UConn intends to be a leader in the NIL space. The fact that the program is housed in the iconic Gampel Pavilion, home of UConn basketball, along with the backing of a major NBA star and Huskies icon like Rudy signals the start of big things to come. Our deep partnership with UConn Athletics has led to this unique opportunity for UConn’s student-athletes.”
The Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation was established in 2017 thanks to a historic gift from philanthropist and entrepreneur Peter J. Werth. The Werth Institute links the University of Connecticut’s ecosystem of resources, programs, academic courses, funding, mentorship, education and activities relating to entrepreneurship and innovation to transform the student experience. Working to make entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial experiences more accessible for all, the Institute seeks to unlock an innovative mindset in every student, instilling an inquisitive approach to rejecting the status quo and creatively attacking the problems we face. By building relationships spanning schools, industries and traditional fields of study, The Werth Institute provides exceptional opportunities for students, faculty and alumni while advancing UConn’s commitment to inclusive entrepreneurship.