You might know Sedona Prince as the leader of a top-10 Oregon team with its eyes on a national championship this season. You might know her as the viral TikToker who helped draw attention to disparities at the NCAA basketball tournaments last spring, from the weight room to the mess hall. Maybe you know Prince as a plaintiff in one of the bigger lawsuits against the NCAA, which argues that college athletes should be paid their part in revenues from college sports TV and sponsorship deals.
It’s not hard to tap into Prince’s mind and talent. But as new name, image and likeness rules open the doors for college athletes to partner with brands, Prince is taking advantage. Through a new campaign with Champs Sports x Eastbay and Uninterrupted, Prince is trying on her media and fashion hats as she dips her toes into these new waters.
She spoke with Dime as the NCAA women’s basketball season tipped off and the Uninterrupted series launched on YouTube about the campaign, the upcoming season, and the future of college sports.
This line from Champs and Eastbay is called More Than An Athlete and we know Uninterrupted has a history with that phrase, but what does that phrase mean to you?
It’s about a lot. We had a lot of time to sit down and think about that and I guess to me, being more than an athlete is about being involved in things other than your sport. That might include your community, things you love. Athletes strongly identify with the sport that they play, so to be more than an athlete is to really try to be as amazing a human as I can, do as many things as I can, help as many people as I can through and outside of sports.
I’m curious too, what stood out to you, what excited you the most about getting to be part of this rebrand, the content series and all of the stuff going into this whole package from Champs, Eastbay and Uninterrupted?
All of it. It’s a very cool opportunity for me because I get to kind of change my role as an athlete and now become someone that gets to interview kids and help people share their stories, help athletes say what they want to say to the world, and be that facilitator for them to talk about it comfortably on set or on Zoom.
Also I used to shop at Champs and Eastbay all the time as a kid, I still do, and now being able to be someone that’s a sponsor for them and holds true to what they believe in and their character as a company and to really represent them is a massive blessing.
You have your own history with getting to this point in college sports where someone can do a deal like this (Prince is part of a lawsuit aimed at allowing college athletes to earn revenue from TV deals and more). What did that part of it mean to you, to go out and represent yourself, partner with a company, and do all the things that only recently you were able to do (now that NIL deals are allowed at most colleges)?
We were talking on the show a little bit about NIL opportunities, what it means and what they can be. It’s an opportunity to truly decide what NIL can be. It’s not just sponsorships, it’s not just posting a picture on social media, but I got to go into a studio and wear a brand and kind of be on a podcast. It truly just shows what these NIL opportunities can be for athletes.
It’s pretty cool, I kind of got to sit back like wow, this is such a blessing, being able to be here right now is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll never forget.
How did you go about operating within the NIL rules and concept right now? Were you waiting to see an opportunity that suits you, were you and your reps diving right in? What was your approach?
We waited a little bit. I wanted to wait on getting an agency for a good two or three months just so I knew (the landscape). I just wanted to sit, wait, see what other athletes were doing, continue to build my brand so I could do me and watch the kids around me.
Now that I started with an agency, I’m able to do different things through TikTok videos, Instagram posts, or even just getting sent free gear and this opportunity. We’re still pursuing many different opportunities that won’t just be for NIL. Obviously NIL will be for the next one or two years I’m in college, but these will be lifelong partnerships that I’ll have for the rest of my pro career.
What are your goals this year on the court?
We will go to the Bahamas (this week), so to win that tournament. Obviously every team wants to win a national championship, a Pac-12 championship, and I really think we can do it this year because we have such an incredible team.
For me personally, it’s just to grow a lot. Keep telling my story on the court and just inspire more fans to watch women’s basketball, be a leader, show younger kids how incredible this game is. And then yeah, be the best player I can be, develop my game, hopefully have an opportunity to make it pro this year or next year, and prove everyone wrong.
I ended up breaking my leg freshman year and nobody really thought I would ever play basketball again at all, so now that I’m here, I have an opportunity to become a story that’s an inspiration to others, which is truly what I want.
Are you the type when you see the all-Pac 12 national championship game last year, are you quietly rooting for that so your conference is repped, or are you the type where that kind of lights a fire under you because you think you should be there and could have beaten them?
A little bit of both. We barely lost to Stanford last year, same with Arizona. It shows how amazing our conference is that both of those teams made it to the championship (game) and were fighting for a title and we played them twice if not three times in a year, but it also proved to our team that that could have been us. 100 percent, that could have been us fighting, we could have been there. It kind of gave us some motivation for this year of what we have to face for our conference. It’s going to be a challenge. We have to go into every game knowing the outcome could go either way, win or lose because every team is so challenging. But there’s also the motivation of we can truly make it all the way. We have preparation the entire year knowing we’re playing against the top teams in the country.
Looking forward a bit, I appreciate your insights into NIL and I’m sure that’s something you’ve thought a lot about and that you in your own way are associated with, but at the same time you’re associated with this women’s sports equity report that came out, becoming the viral sensation that you were, and of course there’s the lawsuit as well. So I’m curious what you see, if I were to give you the keys to college sports and ask in five years, what does Sedona want this all to look like, what would you tell me?
Definitely from an NIL standpoint, just figuring it out. It’s such a new world that everyone is just trying to get their hands around it and learn about it, so I think in the next five years, everybody should have an easier system for athletes to make money. They should know exactly how to match companies with certain athletes’ brands.
Another thing is having equality. Out of the top 10 athletes (on social media), seven or eight of them are women. That really just shows that women have such a large impact in sports, so I think them being able to profit off their names more than men who don’t have as big a reach, that’s going to really be something that I really want to see in the future.
And athletes just being able to come to college and just know that they can take care of their families if they need to, that they’re able to live this amazing life, they’re able to take this money and retire with it, they’re able to use it for their kids’ college if they’re not going pro, start their lives with it when they graduate. They don’t have to have the option of going pro or not. It’s an awesome opportunity.