As Duke basketball reorients around new head coach Jon Scheyer, the program’s staff continues to evolve: enter Rachel Baker.
A former Nike executive, Baker will join Duke as the team’s general manage. In this new position, Baker will “specialize in helping players enhance their personal and professional skill sets, capitalize on strategic partnerships, including NIL opportunities, and work to support players in navigating the opportunities and challenges that come with being a student-athlete at the highest level,” according to a release from Duke.
During her time with Nike, Baker specialized in sports marketing. Baker took on a prominent role with Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL), where she guided partnerships and event strategy.
This move makes a lot of sense for Duke — as the program works to maintain its foothold atop college basketball recruiting. Now more than ever before, top basketball prospects have actual options before entering the NBA Draft: college ball, G-League Ignite development pathway, Overtime Elite and plenty of excellent leagues abroad, like the NBL. With the advent of NIL, the college pathway is going through its own (long overdue) shift.
Given the new paradigm, adding someone like Baker, a sports marketing professional, is the next evolution. It’ll be vital to have someone on the staff — a non-coach, most likely — who can help current/future players market themselves and find value via NIL. More programs will follow with this concept, too.