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Volume 23 No. 29
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Game Plan, Wells Fargo help college athletes manage new stipends

Now that cost-of-attendance stipends have put a little cash in college athletes’ pockets, schools are looking for ways to help them manage that money.

One company working with such schools in this way is Greenville, N.C.-based Game Plan. Formerly known as Game Theory Group, the company recently relaunched as Game Plan and unveiled a partnership with Wells Fargo aimed at helping athletic departments provide a financial education curriculum to their student athletes.

“We’re not necessarily going to be the content developer; we’re the content management system,” said Game Plan founder and CEO Vin McCaffrey. “We’re the folks who are the conduit to the student athlete that can bring in the expertise of a Wells Fargo and bring it to the student athlete in one spot.”

The need for this kind of financial education draws largely from January 2015, when the NCAA approved universities paying student athletes cost-of-attendance stipends. Those payments went into effect at the start of the 2015-16 academic year. Stipends that have been paid range from $1,400 at Boston College to upward of $5,500 at Auburn, Tennessee and others.

Game Plan, which was founded in 2008, has an existing client list of more than 40 colleges and universities from its past work offering a range of services that include personality assessments and career development strategies. Financial education now will be a prime area of focus for the company going forward, McCaffrey said, and that’s where the partnership with Wells Fargo comes in.

Using the financial literacy content Wells Fargo offers to the general public through its “Hands on Banking” program, Game Plan has created more than 20 online modules intended for athletes’ use. These modules will give universities a curriculum they can make available through a web-based system.

McCaffrey said representatives from Wells Fargo branches in the schools’ home markets will be available for in-person tutoring, but it’s the online element of the program that’s key.

“[Universities] now have an entire curriculum of financial education at their control,” McCaffrey said. “They can start to plug that in where they see fit. Now the athletic department has an ongoing resource that they can delve into online.”

Nicholas Carey, vice president of sponsorships for Wells Fargo, said Game Plan allows Wells Fargo to expand the reach of its financial education program. The company has sponsorship deals with 70 schools, he said, but those particular services have been made available only at 18 universities.

“When we were looking at scaling this program nationally and delivering something with a bit more efficiency, we recognized a digital partner like Game Plan was the right provider,” Carey said.

This is not a vacant market that Game Plan is entering. Capital One and Regions Bank, among others, have launched their own financial education programs intending to help student athletes. Game Plan’s hook is its relationship with schools. Among its clients are the University of Florida and the University of Washington. The goal is to double the number of school clients in the next year.

“It’s a really defined market. There’s the athletic departments; we know who they are. That’s the direct-sales model,” McCaffrey said. “We’re looking at prospective partnerships all the time, but the direct-sales model is working very well.”