Chase Griffin ’21, M.Ed. ’23
The average college student is faced with a challenging schedule that often involves balancing a combination of school, work, and on occasion, a social life.
For UCLA Football quarterback, Chase Griffin ’21, M.Ed. ’23, the above rings true…with the addition of balancing life as a student-athlete and navigating it all as a two-time national Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Male Athlete of the Year award-winner.
In education, athletics and the marketplace, opportunities have certainly presented themselves to Griffin in seemingly every facet of his student-athlete experience.
Opportunities in Education
Since coming to Westwood in 2019, Griffin has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs from the Luskin School of Public Affairs (2021) and a Master of Education in transformative coaching and leadership from the School of Education and Information Studies in 2023. Griffin is currently pursuing a master’s degree in legal studies with an emphasis on entertainment law from the UCLA School of Law, with an estimated completion of spring 2025.
To date, Griffin has made the UCLA Athletic Director's Honor Roll 13 times, and is a two-time Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll member. He was also the winner of the UCLA Athletics Academic & Student Services Success Award in 2021 and is a three-time Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year award recipient.
“I’m so thankful for my entire education journey at UCLA,” said Griffin. “My undergrad degree in public affairs has already helped me navigate the world of NIL and my first graduate degree allowed me to learn more about Coach John Wooden, Miss Val and other coaches who have been successful over time.”
Opportunities in Football
Since joining the Bruins in 2019, Griffin has seen firsthand the transformation that the UCLA Football program has gone through. His favorite memories include leading the Bruins to a 27-10 victory over the Arizona Wildcats in 2020. That same season, he also threw four touchdowns against Stanford, setting the program's highest single-game passer rating (298.9) since 2005. Notably, Griffin is undefeated (1-0) while starting at the Rose Bowl.
“I think the team is optimistic about this coming year,” said Griffin. “You have a combination of old guys like me and a bunch of new guys, some very fast guys on the outside and a defense that flies to the ball; I’m excited to see how we can execute.”
Entering its final season in the Pac-12, Griffin and the Bruins are looking to end on a high note. He said, "Personally, I love this conference [Pac-12]. Since I've been here we haven't won the conference. It's our last shot at doing it...so let's do it. As for next year when we move to the Big Ten, we need to understand that while we are leaving the Conference of Champions, we are the University of Champions, and as long as we stay true to ourselves, we're going to be OK."
Opportunities in Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL):
In June 2021, collegiate athletics changed forever with the approval of the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association vs. Alston decision resulted in a unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court ruling that reversed the NCAA’s decades-long policy which limited the education-related benefits that schools may make available to student-athletes. As a result, this decisive ruling prompted the NCAA to allow student-athletes across all levels and divisions of collegiate sports to earn compensation based on their name, image, and likeness. Since then, over 350 Bruin student-athletes have reaped the benefits of the NIL policy.
Griffin’s efforts have placed him as a leader within the NIL movement. The two-time national NIL Male Athlete of the Year recipient from the NIL Summit and Opendorse got his first official NIL deal that summer with the deodorant and antiperspirant brand, Degree.
“The Breaking Limits team at Degree really set a precedent for other large brands to be able to capitalize in the NIL space because that campaign that I did, along with the other folks on the team, generated over a billion hits. Degree got great return on investment, great PR, great press and the content itself performed very well.”
Griffin found value in himself through this initial partnership.
“I remember thinking ‘Wow! I'm able to get paid for the value that I create in the space!’ So, it helped validate my worth and value in the NIL space. Even though I believed I already had value to bring to the table, I was able to get a lot done with just having a good speaking voice and being able to speak well.
“Over time I learned to get better at videography, get better at audio mixing, get better with copywriting. I learned to make the shoot more efficient; I got better in my production and post-production.
“As a competitor, I always want to have the best content in any campaign that I do. I understood that the edge was not just getting an NIL deal, but doing so well on the NIL deal that other companies and brands see the quality I produced and the results the company received, and say ‘Hey, we want him representing us, too!’”
Griffin has enjoyed successful partnerships with Legal Zoom, Boost Mobile, Clear Cover, Range Sports, UWG and J.P. Morgan Chase. He's quick to recognize that others have been advocating for the rights of student-athletes long before his time in Westwood. He credits one of the leaders of the NIL movement, former UCLA Basketball standout Ed O'Bannon '95. In June of 2014, O'Bannon was the main plaintiff in the O'Bannon vs. NCAA lawsuit, where he argued that student-athletes should be able to receive compensation based on their image being used by the NCAA. It was decided that the NCAA's practice of outlawing payments to student-athletes violated several anti-trust laws, which helped pave the way for the 2021 Alston decision.
"Ed O'Bannon played an integral role in the formation of the NIL, and as Bruins we need to recognize that."
Opportunities to Give Back
Looking beyond growing his NIL partnerships; Griffin wanted to give back to the community. Recently, in partnership with Groundswell, he launched the Chase Griffin Foundation with the promise of donating $11 for every point the Bruins score throughout the 2023 season to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank Backpack program, which benefits children who rely on school meals to not go hungry. Griffin and his “Be11eve” Brand have personally donated over $30,000 and more than 120,000 meals and won the GoFundMe College Charity Challenge for the work accomplished with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
Griffin has been actively serving the UCLA community, in and out of the athletic department. A recipient of the UCLA Chancellor's Service Award and UCLA Athletics Bruin Leadership Award in 2021, he was the football program's representative in the Bruin Athletic Council leadership group and has been an integral part of the Pac-12's Student-Athlete Leadership Team. Griffin was also the football team's volunteer representative for the Voting Matters Initiative, which focuses on voter education and voter registration within the Bruin student-athlete population. He has also collaborated with UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital through the Starlight Children's Foundation.
Opportunities for UCLA Alumni
In addition to being a student-athlete, a football player and a NIL entrepreneur, Griffin, who is already a UCLA alumnus, has some advice for the alumni community.
He recommends that alumni connect with UCLA’s administration directly, particularly in the compliance office, about how to get involved. Currently, UCLA is serving its student-athletes in the NIL space by providing the Westwood Exchange, a student-athlete NIL business registry, custom-designed for businesses, alumni and any other interested NIL donors wishing to connect with student-athletes.
Griffin also emphasized the importance of alumni helping student-athletes to establish good financial habits. He said, “Our best way forward, as far as maintaining and growing our excellence as an athletics department and as a university, is to support the players by finding out what they need. We need to support our own, and in addition, stay true to ourselves for years to come.”
With two more years of eligibility as he embarks on another master's degree, Griffin looks to make the most of his final years at UCLA as a student-athlete. But what about life after Westwood?
“When it comes to NIL, I want to maximize my network and work with brands on purpose that I'd want to align with for a very long time, if not a lifetime. As long as I keep on handling my business on the field at UCLA, and with J.P. Morgan Chase in our business ventures, and with all of my other brand deals and different aspects of my life, I am building credibility to help reach my goals.”
Due to his lucrative NIL partnerships, Griffin recognizes that he will be the first person in his family to graduate college without any outstanding student loans. Realizing that tremendous opportunity, he hopes to establish good financial habits and looks to grow that generational wealth for himself and his family.
Griffin aims to pursue career opportunities within the entertainment industry, public service and philanthropy.
As for athletics, he aspires to continue his career on the gridiron. “Until I'm told the dream is dead in football, I want to win a Super Bowl,” Griffin said with a smile.
But above all, Griffin knows that true opportunity comes with having integrity.
“Obviously I can't plan everything, but as long as I keep my faith, and stay true to myself and my values, I know they will carry me all through life. If I handle everything in front of me, everything will happen the way that it is supposed to happen.”
One thing is for certain, no matter where life takes Griffin, he will continue to chase opportunity.
UCLA Alumni Town Hall featuring Chase Griffin ’21, M.Ed. ’23, discussing the impact of NIL.