The reports in recent months have been startling as we’ve transitioned away from payments to college athletes being a taboo topic.
Kentucky basketball player Oscar Tshiebwe will apparently receive around $2 million in deals related to his name, image and likeness (NIL) next season.
At the same time point guard Nijel Pack announced he was transferring to Miami (Fla.), his NIL deal worth an estimated $800 thousand was reported.
Those are just two more prominent recent examples of hundreds.
Payments to student athletes for their NIL have been permitted by the NCAA for nearly a year, but the concept is still in its infancy, with new arrangements reported almost daily.
In the eyes of a former IU Athletics compliance officer, that creates risk.
“A lot of people say it’s the Wild West and the NCAA is gone and won’t do anything,” Tyler Harris, now the Executive Director of Hoosiers For Good, told The Daily Hoosier. “I kind of see it the other way. I think the NCAA wants to be involved and needs to be involved, because if they don’t, then they are gone.”
Hoosiers For Good attempts to bring simplicity to the complex NIL space.
The brainchild of Cook Group President Pete Yonkman, the idea is fairly straightforward. Fans donate to the 501(c)(3) organization, and that money is then allocated to IU athletes who sign agreements to represent various charitable organizations.
The charities have no cost in the deal, while the hope is that awareness generated by the athletes can generate future contributions to their causes. Meanwhile the IU athletes are compensated for activities they can feel go about.
“A lot of student athletes at IU were already involved (with charitable causes), whether through their team or individually,” Harris said. “So there’s always been that want to create good, and help. Most of the feedback I’ve gotten is honestly ‘we’d do this for free.'”
But the players can and should capitalize on their NIL like any other well-known public figure, and already, Hoosiers For Good has shown it can be a significant player for IU in the NIL space.
Despite being in existence for roughly a month, the organization announced a few weeks ago it was allocating $470 thousand to 14 IU student athletes.
And while the allocations went to athletes in seven different programs, Hoosiers For Good is quick to point out that not all of these deals were created equal. The program is taking an economic, market-based approach when it comes to how much an athlete is paid.
“Our agreements aren’t one-size-fits-all,” Harris told The Daily Hoosier. “It really falls back on metrics that we use to determine a range, and those are name recognition, social media influence, the ability to provide national recognition to us and our charitable partners, the program they’re associated with at IU, and that program’s social media influence.”
There is a lot to unpack in that statement, but it is clear that someone like first allocation recipient Trayce Jackson-Davis, with his large social media following, coupled with the IU basketball program’s national brand and more than 1 million Twitter followers, received a very significant payment in connection with that first Hoosiers For Good distribution.
Was it more than the average NBA G-league salary of around $40 thousand per year? Hoosiers For Good wouldn’t say, but that seems to be a near certainty based on the guiding principles outlined by Harris for structuring the agreements. And that was just one distribution from an organization in existence for a month. The point being, it becomes clear rather quickly that a not-for-profit like Hoosiers For Good can help provide compelling financial considerations for athletes on the NBA margin like Jackson-Davis.
And that’s a good thing as athletes in his situation now have a new variable to consider. The idea of staying in school, finishing a degree, and further developing at the college level to move up the NBA Draft board has become more appealing.
Each athlete selected by Hoosiers For Good signs an NIL agreement that specifies their deliverables, compensation terms and non-negotiables.
“We’re requiring upwards of five in-person appearances, 12 to 14 social media posts, and a place in their bios,” Harris said.
While someone like Jackson-Davis can not be granted a NIL agreement conditional on his return to school, there are provisions that could potentially claw-back some of the compensation if he were to leave Indiana.
“How we’ve structured it is if you can meet all the obligations of your agreement, you’re going to get all of the benefits associated with it, and if you can’t, you’re not going to receive the full amount.” Harris said.
Along with Harris’ compliance background from his time at IU, the organization is led by reputable figures who should be able to ensure transparency for donors while keeping IU out of the NCAA’s crosshairs. Along with Yonkman, the board includes former athletes like Calbert Cheaney, business leaders like CareerBuilder chairman Matt Ferguson, and former A.D. Fred Glass serves as counsel.
Harris left IU to work for Hoosiers For Good full-time. And he spends a considerable amount of his time monitoring this brave new NIL world.
“The landscape is evolving on a weekly basis quite frankly, maybe even daily, as more deals come to light, and I think we’ll evolve with it, while sticking to our overall mission,” he said.
“We’ll continue to evolve. We’re not going to be shy about providing really good opportunities to student athletes who can add value.”
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