JT Daniels, the Backyard Brawl and financial education The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast

Wednesday turned into an electric news day on the WVU sports beat.  In the morning, former USC and Georgia quarterback JT Daniels announced his commitment to Neal Brown’s program via Instagram. The former five-star recruit is now the likely favorite to be West Virginia’s week one starting quarterback this fall.  In this edition of The Gold and Blue Nation Podcast, hosts Nick Farrell and Ryan Decker react to Daniels’ commitment, discuss what he could bring to the Mountaineers and discuss the impact his transfer could have on the team’s quarterback room.  WVU plays its opener Sept. 1 against Pitt, the first Backyard Brawl on the gridiron in more than a decade. Shortly after Daniels announced his intent to join the Mountaineers, WVU and Pitt announced that the Backyard Brawl football series has been extended.  Nick and Ryan share the latest details on the future of this series, which will now include games in 2029-32.  And finally, WVU Athletics unveiled a new partnership with Robinhood Markets, Inc., which operates the popular stock-trading and investing app. This partnership is the first of its kind among Division I athletic programs, and through it, Mountaineer student-athletes will have access to unique financial education opportunities.  Nick and Ryan sit down with representatives from Robinhood, as well as Oliver Luck, the former WVU director of athletics who recently co-founded the Country Roads Trust, which connects Mountaineer athletes with name, image and likeness opportunities.  Listen to the latest episode at the top of this page, or on Apple, Spotify, Google and Amazon Music. Subscribe on your preferred podcast platform to have future episodes delivered to you.

West Virginia University unveiled an historic partnership with Robinhood on Wednesday, which will embed financial literacy courses into the curriculum for all scholarship athletes.

The course, which has been offered in recent years in an exploratory phase, will now be required for all WVU student-athletes on scholarship, and optional for those who are not. It will also be integrated into the freshman seminar classes at WVU beginning in 2022-23, so non-student-athletes can receive the same financial education.

The financial literacy program has existed within WVU Athletics for years prior to this partnership. Within the football program specifically, head Neal Brown has made a conscious effort to educate his players about the outside world with his Fifth Quarter Program, which specifically names financial literacy as a focus under one of its five pillars.

So when Robinhood, which aims to “democratize finance for all” and educate the public on finance, heard about WVU’s efforts, it jumped at the opportunity to forge a partnership.

“The components of this partnership is that we provided the funding to get this program off the ground and to sustain the course for at least the next four years,” Chloe Barz, Robinhood’s Director of External Affairs, told the Gold and Blue Nation podcast. “But I think what I’m most excited about here is the fact that Robinhood will be providing guest lecturers throughout the course….So I’m glad to see it be a multi-faceted partnership.”

The course has already seen dividends as WVU student-athletes went through its early stages. Hammond Russell IV, a redshirt freshman nose tackle who recently took the class, had trouble managing his own finances when he first came to school.

Not unlike many college students, he had a habit of spending through his bank account — to the point where “it was always zero dollars.” That is, until his professor, Amy Pridemore, helped him learn how to manage his money.

“She told me what I could do, like take half of it, and put half of it away,” he said. “I put half of it away…and I feel like that really helped out a lot with my investing and starting a retirement.”

That is especially good for Russell, who has the long-term financial goal of buying his parents a house “somewhere nice.”

The partnership is expected to make a large impact on WVU’s campus. The who’s who of WVU all made an appearance (either virtually or in-person) at the unveiling, including University President E. Gordon Gee, Sen. Joe Manchin, and Oliver Luck, WVU’s former QB, director of athletics and the co-founder of Country Roads Trust all gave remarks at the unveiling.

Luck has especially taken a hands-on interest in the livelihoods of student-athletes with the CRT, which is helping those at WVU take advantage of the NCAA’s deregulation of name, image, likeness rules. Even without that deregulation, however, he says a course like this provides value as student-athletes end their careers and go out into the real world.

“To me, the timing is remarkable because of NIL and what we’re trying to do with Country Roads Trust,” Luck told the GBN Podcast. “So to have student-athletes making decisions about NIL with a baseline understanding of the financial world, how it works and what investments are, the beauty of compound interest — I mean, there are a thousand things that I think the students can take away from this course — that’s awesome.”