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Breaking Records On and Off the Court

Published on April 30, 2024, 1:36 p.m.
by CamiLee Downey.

As March Madness comes to a close, one name in women’s college basketball that has been talked about above all others is Caitlin Clark. With her record-breaking season, she has been the topic of many conversations during this year’s tournament.

Throughout her college career, Clark has come to own over 100 records in college basketball, 33 of those in her senior year with the Iowa Hawkeyes. LSU, with its own popular athlete, Angel Reese, contributed to the then-record-breaking viewership with the Elite Eight game on April 1, holding the women’s viewership record for less than a week.

With the South Carolina Gamecocks winning this year’s national championship, Clark finished out her college basketball career with a loss.

Photo via Adobe Stock by Rokas

Drawing in viewers

Clark’s outstanding achievements in the sport have gained massive amounts of media attention for herself, her team at The University of Iowa and women’s college basketball as a whole.

On March 3, Clark surpassed LSU’s “Pistol Pete” Maravich’s 54-year-old record to become the NCAA’s leading scorer for men and women. This milestone generated lots of media attention to Clark and to women’s basketball. As viewers tuned into the postseason games, they gravitated to the Iowa Hawkeyes with Clark nearing the end of her college basketball career.

The viewership milestones continued postseason. The women’s final between Iowa and South Carolina had record viewership with 18.7 million tuned in to make it the most-watched women’s basketball game in history. In addition this year’s Final Four game between the Hawkeyes and University of Iowa had the highest audience of any basketball game ever on ESPN, peaking at 17 million viewers, and this year’s final was the first time the women’s championship game had higher viewership than the men’s game.

All eyes are on Clark as she begins her professional basketball career.

Rising above

Embarking on the next stage of her life and career, Clark has already achieved great feats off the court as well as on it. Along with playing in the most-viewed women’s basketball game ever, she has leveraged the media attention in her favor. She is endorsed by well-known brands such as Buick, Gatorade, State Farm and Nike, which shows her influence beyond the sport. If major brands want to collaborate with her, she is doing something, or many things, right.

Ahead of her senior season, Clark signed with Excel Sports Management agency to lead all of her brand-building efforts. Clark mentioned that she is hopeful to give back to communities through her foundation, The Caitlin Clark Foundation, which is a major reason she signed with Excel. Her foundation also shows the authenticity of her brand off the court and allows for relationships to be made with her fans and the community she serves.

Photo via Just Women’s Sports

Her impressive career has helped her become a brand ambassador for the sport of women’s basketball. She has created what is known as the “Caitlin Clark Effect,” which refers to how she has driven ticket sales and media attention for the sport extremely high.

She is redefining how women athletes are marketed. Clark has earned over $3.1 million in name, image and likeness (NIL) deals, which is the fourth-most of any college athlete. These high-profile deals not only benefit her; they also contribute to the growth and visibility of women’s athletics as a whole.

Clark has a social media following that surpasses 87% of NBA players, including over 1.8 million followers on Instagram. Clark even has her own website for information on her foundation and basketball career, which also is used as a contact center.

Moving on and up

Clark has a promising career ahead of her in the WNBA as she got drafted to the Indiana Fever as the first overall pick earlier this week.

With a bright future ahead, what moves will Clark make on and off the court to keep this momentum growing?

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