Car dealerships are jumping to partner with college sports stars

Ohio State University running back TreVeyon Henderson is one of the best football players in the country, but at Ricart Automotive Group he’s just one of the “trainees.”

Henderson, several of his teammates, and other Ohio State athletes star in a series of commercials that show them fetching coffee, pushing cars, and being silly with band president Rick Ricart.

The “Rick’s Interns” videos are a byproduct of the NCAA’s June 2021 decision to allow student athletes to profit from the use of their name and likeness. Since then, Ricart Automotive and many other dealerships have begun to leverage the star power of collegiate sportspeople through promotional offers and compensate them in various ways that would previously have violated NCAA rules.

Athletes across the country have free access to the vehicles and are paid in some cases to appear in advertisements or wear dealer-branded clothing.

The ‘name, image and likeness’ policy change has opened huge marketing doors for dealers in states such as Alabama, Iowa and Kansas, which are home to rabid college sports fanbases but not… major professional teams.

In central Ohio, Buckeye diehards are everywhere, but the players they idolize have until now been banned from ads.

“It’s tough today with TV advertising, the world of social media, all the streaming services. We have to be more creative than ever, so wherever our ads are placed, they really have [to have an] hard-hitting angle to grab people’s attention,” Ricart said. Automotive News. “Columbus, Ohio’s biggest celebrities are the stars of Ohio State’s sports programs today.”

Ricart Automotive, which owns several major dealerships in Columbus, has signed nearly 20 name, image and likeness deals with Ohio State athletes and compensates them in a number of ways. Some receive money for promotions. Others get leases on the vehicles, although they have to cover insurance and fuel.

Henderson initially chose a Chevrolet Camaro, but he swapped it for a Genesis GV70 crossover after a few months when he realized the rear-drive pony car wasn’t suited to Ohio winters.

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