Rutgers names Zak to head up newly created NIL position

Creating name, image and likeness financial opportunities has become top priority at all major collegiate programs

In what may just be the most important hire in the Rutgers Athletics program in the foreseeable future, Rutgers University announced Thursday that it has hired Reed Zak as a general manager responsible for overseeing the department’s efforts in name, image and likeness opportunities for its student-athletes.

In just one year, NIL opportunities have become one of the most important aspects of a college program — as they allow athletes to earn money while they participate. The job is doubly important at Rutgers, which does not have as many ready-made big-money opportunities as many of its competitors in the Big Ten and around the country.

Rutgers worked with Altius Sports Partners to identify candidates through a nationwide search, analyzing their strengths in sports marketing, partnerships and promotions. The relationship will continue, post-hire.

ASP, an adviser to many top-tier collegiate athletic programs and sports properties, will train, assist and oversee the newly created position. Zak will collaborate with Rutgers to heighten the student-athlete experience by conceptualizing and coordinating programming and resources. In addition, he will raise awareness in the New Jersey community among key business leaders and other external stakeholders about NIL initiatives at Rutgers.  

The ASP GM Program, which launched in July 2022, centralizes support services for NIL, creating a distinct standalone vertical within athletics departments.

Rutgers is one of 13 schools participating in this program. ASP personnel, stationed on campus, offer customized education and guidance on national issues related to NIL, ensuring student-athletes have the best opportunities. ASP prioritizes the development of student-athlete NIL and seeks to collaborate with institutional partners and university supporters. As the GM Program expands, ASP will continue to offer advisory support to all school partners. 

Zak arrives at Rutgers after spending two years as sales manager with REVELxp, overseeing hospitality sales at Colorado State, Arizona State and Air Force home football games. He set records at CSU and ASU with the most tailgate packages sold in a single season. Prior to joining REVELxp, Zak worked with Learfield IMG College in partnership services on the Providence College campus. He served as an account manager responsible for contract fulfillment and the implementation of sponsorships across several accounts.  

A native of New Jersey, Zak earned his bachelor’s degree from Monmouth University in business administration with a concentration in marketing and management/decision sciences. He completed his MBA at Providence in 2019. Zak worked as a graduate assistant in the marketing department with Providence Athletics, where he was involved in the promotional efforts for men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s ice hockey.  

Zak said he is eager to get started. 

“As a New Jersey native, it’s an honor and privilege for me to work alongside Rutgers Athletics,” he said. “The tri-state region offers abundant NIL opportunities for Scarlet Knight student-athletes, and the entire Rutgers team acknowledges the advantage this provides in maintaining competitiveness within the Big Ten.

“Drawing from my background as a student-athlete with professional experience in corporate partnerships, I understand how to connect athletes and brands. I’m excited to utilize Altius’ resources to enhance the services accessible to all Rutgers stakeholders.” 

Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs said the school is glad to have more help in the NIL area.

“He is part of our continuing efforts to ensure that our student athletes have every opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness,” he said. “With so many potential partners in the New York metropolitan area, it was important to have someone focused every day on promoting Rutgers Athletics and the incredible student-athletes who compete for us.”