From New York State Route 690, Megan Carney can be seen on a billboard, holding a lacrosse stick and dressed in laser-tag equipment with the slogan, “Move like Meg at Apex.”
With the introduction of name, image and likeness legislation, where college athletes can profit off their likeness, Carney became Syracuse’s first female athlete to ink NIL deals when she signed deals with The Players Trunk and Apex Entertainment in December. She developed her own officially licensed “MC 22” merchandise line with The Players Trunk and became Apex’s second college athlete partnership, joining former Syracuse basketball guard Buddy Boeheim.
“Just being able to take advantage of this opportunity that’s new for everyone especially myself as I can continue building my brand especially after college, this is like a kick-start to that,” Carney said.
Because of lacrosse’s spring schedule, Carney said she spent last fall trying to understand the NIL world and how to build her brand, even taking Falk College’s new NIL sport management course taught by Dave Meluni. The course allowed her to recognize potential branding opportunities, said Tony DeSorbo, co-founder and CEO of Elite NIL, the company that represents and assists Carney in the NIL process.
Hunter Pomerantz, the co-founder of The Players Trunk who graduated from Syracuse in 2020, said it was a “no-brainer home run” for him to reach out to Carney for a possible partnership. Some athletes prefer to have full control on the merchandise design process while some go with the flow, Pomerantz said. Carney let The Players Trunk provide her with several sample ideas. She loved the front-facing image with the running, dodging stance she’s in, but she had to decide what the background text would be on the image, he added.
Pomerantz asked her if she wanted “Megan Carney” or “Meg Carney,” among other variations, but Carney didn’t want any of those. She wanted “MC 22,” adding her personal touch to her merchandise.
Maya Goosmann | Digital Design Director
Over the weekend of Jan. 22, it took only a couple of days from when the designs and samples were sent to Carney to when they were being sold online. During that time, Pomerantz received an email from Syracuse granting licensing approval, allowing Carney’s merchandise line, which consists of navy blue T-shirts and hoodies with the orange “MC 22” and the image, to become available online. Besides apparel, Pomerantz said he hopes that they can add autographed products and memorabilia to her offerings.
Elite NIL also helped Carney secure a partnership with Apex, which already has a deal with Buddy and just signed with Sean Tucker for the upcoming football season, said Rob Luzzi, director of field marketing for RAVentures, the corporation that oversees Apex.
The connection between Apex, Elite NIL and Buddy made it rather simple for Carney to sign along with the company, Luzzi said. She serves as a “spokesperson” or “representative” for Apex, using her social media platforms to connect with fans and promote Apex’s location at Destiny Mall, he added.
“What Meg also has is the understanding of how to market herself, how to utilize social media and things like that,” said Mike Bristol, co-founder and president of Elite NIL. “She knows how to follow up — she doesn’t leave things dragging.”
Luzzi brought in Carney for a photoshoot, where she’s trying out the various activities at Apex such as bowling, arcade games, ax throwing and laser tag while wearing a Nike quarter-zip with the Apex logo. Also included in Carney’s contract with Apex is a promotion event, which Luzzi said he hopes will take place in early June right after the NCAA Final Four.
Carney isn’t taking every deal she gets offered, though, Bristol said. She likes the local, family-friendly atmosphere of Apex and the opportunity for a merchandise line with The Players Trunk.
“It says a lot about her,” Bristol said. “She’s not taking every deal. It’s got to make sense for what she’s trying to accomplish and do. She has a clear understanding of who and what she is.”
Aside from her NIL deals, she said her fitness and health Instagram account, where she shares her workouts and recipes, is part of the brand she’s trying to create. And for Carney, when people think of her brand, she said she wants people to think of her as “outgoing, athletic (and) energetic.”
“I feel like I’m spontaneous,” Carney said. “I just love playing lacrosse, working out. That’s part of my brand. That’s what I am trying to build.”
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