Former Penn State student-athlete Omar X. Easy, Ph.D. to lead new Brand Academy
UNIVERSITY PARK – Omar X. Easy, Ph.D., a former Penn State football student-athlete and Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders running back, has been appointed to lead The Penn State Brand Academy in his role as the Assistant Athletics Director for the Brand Academy.
The Brand Academy, a project recently launched by Invent Penn State in partnership with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics and funded through the Wally Triplett Brand Academy Endowment, is designed to support student-athletes and others to manage and leverage their personal brand, Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), and support their entrepreneurial interests more successfully.
“I am excited and extremely grateful to be leading this initiative and directing the Brand Academy,” said Easy. “This is an amazing opportunity for our student-athletes and a privilege for me to serve in this leadership capacity in honor of our late great Wally Triplett, whom I had the distinct pleasure of knowing before he passed. Establishing this academy is nothing shy of innovative and forward thinking as we navigate this ever-evolving NIL space.”
In his role as assistant athletics director for the Brand Academy, Easy will be responsible for building a nationally recognized student-athlete brand program, developing, and executing on NIL strategies, and envisioning and overseeing educational programming, events and resources that directly equip students with an entrepreneurial mindset and the skills necessary to engage in NIL opportunities.
“Dr. Easy has an extensive history in education, programming, and personal brand building through his own experiences in professional sports and higher education,” said Deputy Athletics Director for Administration and External Operations Brandi Stuart. “He also understands the demands on Penn State student-athletes as well as the opportunities associated with obtaining a degree from Penn State. With this generous endowment from the Wally Triplett Brand Academy and his vision for the program, our student-athletes will certainly have a unique opportunity to be leaders in the NIL space.”
Most recently, Easy held leadership roles, including superintendent of schools, director and executive director, at public preK-12 school districts in Massachusetts. In those roles, Easy developed key initiatives to advance early childhood education, created a districtwide language base program, implemented state–recognized Innovative Pathways and Academies, and collaborated with town and city administration to develop and institute local improvement projects.
Easy previously worked in Penn State Athletics as the director of football player development in 2012, where he supported student academic and personal development and promoted community relations for the football program.
Easy received his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Penn State, as well as his M.Ed. in education administration and his B.A. in broadcast journalism. He received his M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Easy as the inaugural director of the Brand Academy,” said Brad Zdenek, director of economic development and student programs within the Office of Entrepreneurship and Commercialization. “He brings with him a wealth of experience, enriching this initiative with his profound understanding of both the sports and entrepreneurial worlds. His leadership will be pivotal in guiding our student-athletes and entrepreneurs through the complexities of personal branding and the evolving NIL landscape, all while molding leaders and innovators who will carry forward the indomitable spirit of Penn State.”
The Brand Academy, housed in the Morgan Academic Center, Greenburg Complex, will be an extension of the Invent Penn State entrepreneurial ecosystem housed in the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub in downtown State College. It will leverage the resources already available at the Innovation Hub, such as Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, the Penn State Law Clinics, and the Penn State Small Business Development Center.
With new opportunities related to NIL, the Brand Academy will play a critical role in helping educate student-athletes on evaluating and navigating NIL opportunities and building entrepreneurial skills.