SYRACUSE, NY – A popular former member of the Syracuse football staff returns in a new role for the first time since 2015.

Will Hicks, who served as the team’s head strength and conditioning coach from 2000 to 2015, has been hired as director of player engagement for head coach Dino Babers’ team, SU announced Friday.

Hicks’ role will focus on engagement programs and networking opportunities for the student-athletes, connecting them with community members and Syracuse alumni. It also helps identify opportunities for names, images, and similarities.

Babers let Hicks go in 2016 when he fired Scott Shafer’s assistant coach and staff on his hire and brought many of his own guys, including current head strength and conditioning coach Sean Edinger, from Bowling Green.

Hicks coached a number of prominent Orange players from this century, including Dwight Freeney, Chandler Jones, Art Jones and Justin Pugh. Many of his former players wrote to school and then athletic director Mark Coyle in 2016, urging them to keep Hicks close.

Hicks remained on Syracuse’s staff for three years after ending his stint with the football team as assistant athletic director for athletic performance. He oversaw programs for Olympic sports.

After retiring from coaching, Hicks joined the ‘Cuse Athletics Fund. He has served as the Fund’s Director of Development and Executive Director of the Varsity Club and athletic alumni engagement.

In the two years since athletes have been able to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness, Syracuse has been relatively cautious in its practices.

Current athletic director John Wildhack previously spoke about the university’s emphasis on providing players with education and financial literacy as they navigate the new era of collegiate athletics. The addition of Hicks to the football staff marks a new step in this journey, shifting the University of NIL’s involvement from almost exclusively internal to external.

A number of Orange players have both local and national businesses: Garrett Shrader is a partner at Heritage Hill Brewery and Oronde Gadsden recently started a deal with skincare brand Cerave through athlete marketing company Out2Win. Twelve players from last year’s team were also involved with the local NIL collective Athletes Who Care.

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