Success & Impact

Young Alum Turns Passion for Name, Image and Likeness Into a Career

Noah Henderson ’20 is pursuing his law degree and supporting student-athletes through his startup role.

Noah Henderson in a hat and sweatshirt sitting on a picnic table

by Luke Malanga ’20

Noah Henderson ’20 has always been an advocate for other student-athletes. A member of the golf team at Saint Joseph’s University from 2016-2020, Henderson was also a leader on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the Hawks-Minded Leadership Council, which supports student-athlete mental health. After graduating, Henderson witnessed the rumblings of changing NCAA rules that would allow student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). Now in his third year of law school at the University of Illinois College of Law, Henderson is working with startup Student Athlete NIL, turning his passion for activism and NIL work into a career. 

Last January, Henderson was part of a working group that helped amend the state law in Illinois to benefit student-athletes. 

“One of the things I pushed really hard to get into the bill, which I’m very proud of, is an educational requirement that universities have to provide life skills training to student-athletes. This includes things like accounting, budgeting, brand building, that you won't get elsewhere until you hit the real world,” says Henderson.

Getting his law degree is about having tools at his side to be an effective advocate for student-athletes, he says.

“I want to be on the forefront [of NIL] because I think that education is an incredible priority,” says Henderson. “I think that most students, let alone student-athletes at no fault of their own, don't have a lot of necessary life skills to go out and be as successful as they can.”

Henderson fell in love with economics at Saint Joseph’s where he learned to think critically and set himself up for law school.

“I took a bunch of classes with Dr. [Christian] Pardo and Dr. [Laura] Crispin, and they're both wonderful and really helped me learn how to think logically and think rationally and always search for the causation behind things,” says Henderson.

One of the things I pushed really hard to get into the bill is an educational requirement that universities have to provide life skills training to student-athletes. 

Noah Henderson '20

Outside of the classroom, Henderson also searched for other opportunities to get involved in the community and make an impact.

“There's a beauty to St. Joe's where, if you want to, you can. If you wanted to make an impact on campus, you could; if you wanted to start an organization you could,” says Henderson. "It's also a setting that is dedicated to service, where your mission is to help the community and stand up for what you believe in. The Jesuits are people who want change and who are progressive. I always felt comfortable speaking out on issues at St. Joe's; there's a lot of room to have a voice and be heard."

During his time at SJU, Henderson was on the leadership board of Hawks-Minded. Founded by fellow student-athlete Caroline Duffy ’20, the initiative led to the development of a mental health program within the athletics department and the hiring of a full-time sports psychologist.

Taylor Weidensaul, director of the Athlete Center for Enrichment, says Henderson was always looking for more ways to get involved, quench his thirst for knowledge, and to work with others on campus.

Weidensaul remembers working with Noah on his final class schedule before graduation, “While some students may be looking to lighten their academic load during their last semester in college, Noah was interested in finding the best classes to prepare him for law school,” she says.

“It is important that our student-athletes are getting transformative experiences in a variety of ways; in the classroom, on the field — or golf course, in Noah's case — by meeting and working with peers on various committees,” Weidensaul says. “The Athlete Center for Enrichment (ACE) helps provide the support to student-athletes to balance all of these aspects and ensure that our student-athletes are getting the most out of their experience here. Then we can just sit back and watch proudly as student-athletes, like Noah, go on and change the world.” 

At SANIL, which helps brands work with student-athletes, Henderson is putting his learnings from law school to practice. As the startup’s legal and business affairs coordinator, he assists in advising athletes, brands, collectives and university administrators on best practices, and has drafted contracts for Name, Image, and Likeness engagements totaling over half a million dollars. Henderson has helped facilitate endorsement deals between student-athletes and businesses — like local restaurants inking deals with local college athletes to name menu items after them. 

“It's a lot more than money going into the pockets of student-athletes,” says Henderson. “It's empowering student-athletes to have a voice, it's empowering them financially to start whatever venture they want, and it's empowering student-athletes to learn really important life skills.”