H&R Block signs two female basketball players to void deals, makes pacts with other female varsity athletes

H&R Block, Inc. has signed sponsorship deals with University of Iowa sophomore guard Caitlin Clark and University of South Carolina junior guard Zia Cooke as part of a new tax preparation company program to invest in female athletes.

Clark and Cooke, two of the nation’s top female basketball players, are the first participants in H&R Block’s “A Fair Shot” campaign. The company plans to announce additional deals in the coming days and weeks with several other athletes in basketball as well as other sports. The transactions with Clark and Cooke take place two weeks before the start of the NCAA tournament, a few weeks before the tax deadline and during the first school year in which college athletes can enjoy their name, image and likeness ( NIL), which entered into force on July 1, 2021.

H&R Block would not disclose financial details of its pacts with Clark and Cooke, but it noted that the deals are for “above market rates”. The company placed a total value of $1 million on the program for all of its participants. But that includes tax preparation and financial advice, so the exact amount of money H&R Block is paying out to players could not be learned.

Starting today, Clark and Cooke will promote the company’s tax preparation services through videos on their social media channels. They are not expected to appear in television commercials.

Clark is the NCAA Division 1 leader in points (27.5) and assists (8.3) per game, while Cooke is third in scoring for No. 1-ranked South Carolina. and a defending All-Southeastern Conference first-team selection.

Jeff Jones, president and CEO of H&R Block, noted that the company currently has no partnerships with any other college or professional sports players, teams or leagues. But he said the company decided to pursue the initiative because first-time college athletes will need help understanding the tax implications of their NIL agreements. And it targets female athletes to highlight the inequalities they face compared to their male counterparts, according to Jones.

“There are many reasons why we choose the athletes that we are, but I think these two in particular have a great record of their performance on the court but also their advocacy off the court,” Jones said. . “We know they feel personally and strongly about these kinds of issues. We think they will be amazing spokespersons, not only for H&R Block, but also on the subject of inequity.

Clark, who has 21,900 Twitter followers and 132,000 Instagram followers, has seen his national profile rise this season. Never was that more evident than Sunday against Michigan when Clark had 38 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds in Iowa’s 104-80 win that clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title. .

After this game, Memphis Grizzlies keep Ja Morant rented Clark via Twitter, while Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James did the same via an Instagram Story.

Clark, who led the nation in scoring last season with 26.6 points per game and was second with 7.1 assists per game, capitalized on his fame with other NIL contracts. These include a OK with grocery chain Hy-Vee, headquartered in Clark’s hometown of West Des Moines, Iowa, and the Vinyl Studio, a West Des Moines-based design studio that sells Clark inspired t-shirts and sweatshirts.

The H&R Block is Clark’s largest in terms of exposure, as the company is a nationally recognized brand that generated $3.4 billion in revenue in fiscal 2021. H&R Block has approximately 9,000 offices in all 50 states plus Australia and Canada. Clark said she turned down other NIL offers before accepting H&R Block’s pitch.

“It was an easy yes for me,” Clark said. “With the new NIL guidelines and student-athletes having to pay taxes, I think H&R Block is something we will really need. It’s not something we’ve really had to deal with before as student-athletes. They want to get involved and help and guide us through this process of paying taxes and knowing what to do with our money and also helping us to be financially stable all the way.

Cooke, meanwhile, has 15,500 followers on Twitter and 205,000 followers on Instagram. She is among the best players on a South Carolina team that is the favorite to win the national title. The Gamecocks (27-1) received all 30 votes for first place in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll and were the number one seed in the NCAA women’s basketball rankings reveal on Monday night.

Cooke has also signed other NIL contracts, including with Dick’s Sporting Goods and fast food chain Bojangles.

Opendorse, a marketing platform for athletes, Noted At the end of March 2021, Cooke (fifth) and Clark (20th) were among the top 20 players (male or female) participating in the NCAA Tournament by number of followers combined on Instagram and Twitter. And in January, Opendorse revealed that female basketball players in general accounted for 26.2% of total NIL compensation for all sports between July 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021, according to the company’s database. Football, with 45.7% of total earnings, was the only sport with a higher percentage. Opendorse would not reveal individual player data.

Yet Opendorse also noted that women only made up 32.6% of the NIL compensation provided to NCAA Division 1 athletes in the last six months of 2021. This discrepancy came as no surprise to Clark, who has reported seeing female players in general struggling to receive as much attention or being treated the same as their male peers.

During last year’s NCAA Tournament, there were numerous reports of conditions in the women’s event pale in comparison to the men’s event as well. And in August, a law firm hired by the NCAA published a 113-page report critiquing the NCAA’s approach to supporting women’s basketball and highlighting fairness issues.

“(Gender equity) is what we need, and that’s what H&R Block is trying to do as well, is to create that fair play for all of us and close that gap” , said Clark. “It’s also what my teammates are passionate about, and it’s what other female varsity athletes across the country want. It’s the whole point of this campaign to close that gap and achieve fairness for all of us between men’s and women’s sports.

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