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NIL Network

NIL PROGRAM COMPARISON

Exploring NIL Resources From Leading Universities

Disclaimer: Analysis of the NIL programs was conducted through researching the athletic department’s website and reviewing their partner’s press releases. This article is provided for informational purposes only, and NIL Network has no monetary affiliation or partnership with any of these companies.

By TJ Bleichner, NIL Network Research Analyst

 

This month, “Best Institutional Program” will be awarded for the first time at the #INFLCR NIL Summit. “This award recognizes a college or institution that has shown exceptional commitment to supporting its student-athletes in maximizing their Name, Image and Likeness opportunities through a combination of education, resources and industry-leading innovation.” (NIL Summit, 2022)

 
Here, we review the programs to give an objective analysis of what each institutional program offers for student-athletes regarding Name, Image, and Likeness.
NIL Summit Nominations: Program Comparison
Universities ARKANSAS AUBURN BOISE STATE MICHIGAN OKLAHOMA STATE OHIO STATE

3rd Party Partnerships

Captiv8 Collegiate, NOCAP Sports

INFLCR

INFLCR, Team Altemus, NOCAP Sports, Fanword Boost

INFLCR

INFLCR, Altius Sports

Opendorse, Darlow Rules

NIL Education

INFLCR

INFLCR

Opendorse, Darlow Rules

Comprehensive Website with Policy and/or Guidelines

X

University Specific Marketplace or Agency

X

NIL-Specific Employee

X

X

X

X

X

NIL Directory of Athletes

FanWord Boost

X

X

Use of Institutional IP

with permission

with permission, potential fee

?

Nothing about use of Institutional IP on Boise State’s website

with “appropriate licensing approval”

only for NIL activities with an institutional partner

X

“You may not use photos or videos containing Ohio State trademarks, logos, service marks, symbols, or other intellectual property in your NIL Activities.”

Unique Offerings

Links to apparel shops of student athletes, partnership w/ business school

Partnership w/ business school (Harbert College of Business)

X

X

Brand Squad, partnership w/ business school, classes for credit

Athletic Department connects brands to athletes, Designated NIL delegates for each team, NIL Corporate Ambassador Program

TOTAL

7

7

4

5

7

5

A Deeper Dive

Almost immediately after opening the Arkansas Razorbacks website, I see the words “NIL Program” at the top of the site. This, as you guessed it, links us to Arkansas’ NIL program page. You are then presented with a website that first explains what NIL is, as well as links for who you can contact to inquire about NIL at the University of Arkansas. 

From there, you are able to see who Arkansas’ third party partners are. The first partner you might see is NOCAP Sports. NOCAP Sports provides a marketplace for student-athletes nationally. Since the same marketplace is available to any student-athlete and not just Arkansas athletes, we had to put an X in the chart for Arkansas in this category. However, this does not take away from the fact that Arkansas athletes still have a marketplace for NIL deals. On the NOCAP Sports website you are able to sign up either as an athlete or a business to start your NIL transactions. Arkansas currently has other 3rd party partnerships with INFLCR and Captiv8 Collegiate. Those partnerships are geared towards student-athlete education and assisting them with personal branding.

 

Going back to Arkansas’ NIL website, we can see that they have a posted “NIL Directory” under the Connect tab at the top. This directory links back to the Razorbacks website under the roster of the specific sport chosen. The rosters have Twitter and Instagram links for all student-athletes that we assume have opted in to share such information. However, it seems as though not every team has opted in or had the chance to allow the athletic department to share their social media links, as there are several teams with many athletes that have no links to any of their social medias, while sports such as men’s and women’s basketball and football all have social media links. The NIL directory also links you to several student athletes’ shops where you can buy apparel specific to a certain student-athlete to help support them.

 

Terry Prentice is the head of the NIL department at Arkansas. There are currently 3 different people in that department to help athletes with anything regarding NIL. Arkansas also allows their athletes (with permission) to use the Institution’s Intellectual Property such as trademarks and logos. In unique offerings, Arkansas has a partnership with their business school to assist student-athletes on maximizing their NIL. 

 

Overall, Arkansas has hit 7 out of 8 of the categories of what it takes to have a great NIL program.

Auburn’s website links you to their NIL page from the Athletics tab on their drop down menu. The NIL page at Auburn is put in their life skills program, which is under the name AuburnYou. On the front page of the NIL program, titled SPIRIT, you are given a flurry of links that guide you to information on NIL policies, procedures, requests, and education.

 

One of those links is a NIL directory that lists every student-athlete along with their twitter and/or Instagram if they have opted in to share such information. From the looks of it, almost every Auburn student-athlete has opted in to share the information and their Instagram/twitter handles are listed accordingly.

 

Auburn is one of the many schools that has opted to partner with INFLCR to take advantage of their NIL resources. The specific product that Auburn uses is INFLCR Verified, which gives student-athletes a quick and easy way to report NIL deals along with receiving education about NIL in general. Auburn also uses Team Altemus for education purposes. However, those partnerships do not come with a marketplace for their student-athletes to apply/negotiate for deals. The marketplace that Auburn uses is through a third-party collective called NIL-Auburn. The collective provides a marketplace specifically for deals for those wanting to do business with Auburn athletes. When those athletes are executing these deals, Auburn policy allows student-athletes to use the institutional intellectual property after permission is given and a fee is paid.

 

Auburn also does not currently have a NIL-specific position within their athletic department. The AuburnYou department is what is listed as their NIL contacts. That department has three employees whose job responsibilities range from NIL duties, athletic alumni relations, and overall student-athlete development. So, like many other schools, Auburn delegates NIL duties to departments that already existed.

 

In conclusion, Auburn is doing great in the NIL space and has hit 7 out of 8 of the categories we have listed in the chart above.

At first, it was difficult to find the NIL page and policy on the Bronco Sports website. The NIL page (or what was thought to be the NIL page)  is listed under the program’s name, What’s Next Initiative (WNI). After clicking on the WNI Link, you quickly realize that it is not the NIL page and policy of the university, but a separate fundraising and donation program that is dedicated to enhancing BroncoLife and expanding the Name, Image, and Likeness department at Boise State. There is no link to an NIL policy or page on the Bronco Sports website. On the WNI website, there is no link or even mention of NIL. It is a website that is devoted to fundraising and donating to the Bronco Athletic Department and enhancing the quality of life for their student-athletes. 

 

After finding nothing pertaining to or alluding to NIL on the Bronco Sports website (even an institutional policy on anything about NIL), I had to google “Bronco Sports NIL” for one news article from Bronco Sports to come up. The article, posted on 12/2/2021, discusses a new NIL Exchange that is available to businesses for them to more easily get in contact with their student-athletes. The exchange is through INFLCR’s Local Exchange. Boise State was one of the first schools, and first in the Mountain West, to take the initiative to provide a marketplace for their student-athletes to be able to interact with businesses and successfully execute NIL deals and negotiations.

 

Other than the INFLCR partnership, Boise State is also partnered with Fanword Boost to provide a NIL Directory for businesses to contact student-athletes, Team Altemus for NIL education, and NOCAP Sports. While Boise State has several different partnerships with third-party companies, there is no specific NIL position at Boise State, nor are there any other unique offerings by the university such as a partnership with any school on Boise State’s campus. Fortunately for Boise State athletes, there is no state legislation that pertains to NIL. Boise State is essentially allowed to do whatever they want under NIL while following NCAA guidelines. In conclusion, Boise State has 4 out of 8 of the major categories of what a successful NIL program should have.

Michigan’s Athletic website links you to their NIL program under their About tab at the top of the page. The first link on the NIL page is a PDF of Michigan’s full NIL policy. The front page explains what NIL is, what the role of the university is and isn’t, and a link to their VICTORS Local Exchange.

 

The VICTORS Local Exchange is powered through INFLCR’s Exchange application. The University of Michigan, just like Boise State, has their own page and marketplace through INFLCR to allow their student athletes a place to apply and negotiate for NIL deals with businesses that also sign up on the exchange. The Exchange also allows student-athletes access to Michigan’s wide array of photos and videos that are taken by the Michigan media/creative services staff. Michigan also uses INFLCR for any NIL education that student-athletes need.

 

Michigan’s third-party collective is named Valiant Management. The main focus of the collective is to assist Michigan student-athletes with NIL deal-making and fulfillment. The VICTORS Local Exchange allows Michigan athletes a centralized way to seek out and transact NIL deals, whether that deal is through Valiant or from a local business. When completing these NIL deals, Michigan athletes are allowed to use the institution’s intellectual property with “appropriate licensing approval.”

 

Looking on the NIL page for Michigan, there is no NIL directory that immediately connects businesses or interested persons with student-athlete contact information/social media links. However, if you go to the roster for each sport, many of the student athletes have their Instagram and twitter linked in their individual roster profiles. There is just no link from the NIL page or a directory that lists all of this information in one place. Further, there is also not a NIL-specific position listed in the athletic department. The NIL page is hosted under the compliance part of the website, so it is very possible that the NIL program could be run through compliance at Michigan.

 

In conclusion, Michigan is able to hit 5 out of 8 of the categories for a great and successful NIL program.

Oklahoma State’s NIL program page has its own link in the main drop down menu on the OKState website. Immediately, on the homepage of the NIL program, you see that Oklahoma State has partnered with INFLCR to use OSU Elite. OSU Elite is there to help those student-athletes tell their own stories by connecting them with money-making applications, sending them photo and video content, and educating athletes on marketing and business. Oklahoma State is also partnered with Altius Sports Partners for guidance and education. 

If you scroll just a bit further, you get into the website explaining what NIL is and how it works. The website has a very useful FAQ section for the general public, student-athletes, international student-athletes, and businesses. The website also has links to their school policy for NIL and a way for anybody to message a question/inquiry to the NIL staff at the university.

While looking through the NIL page, it was very easy to find the NIL directory of student-athletes. The directory is a very useful and easily accessible chart of every student-athlete, their respective emails and social media accounts that each one has. The university, however,  does not list any specific person as a NIL contact or employee that specifically deals with NIL. The home page for the NIL program says to contact the compliance department for any questions regarding the NIL policies at Oklahoma State, so it is possible that the compliance department currently handles all NIL related ventures and concerns.

Oklahoma state also employs the use of Recur NFTs to create NFTs that fans can buy to support their athletes. Oklahoma State allows all student-athletes to use Oklahoma marks and logos for their NIL deals as long as that NIL activity is with an institutional partner.

The Cowboys and Cowgirls are unique in that they have NIL classes that are available for class credit and they have the Brand Squad. The Brand Squad is an official OSU student group that is made up of students from the marketing and business schools who make themselves available free of charge to student-athletes to help them with marketing, branding, and entrepreneurship.

Here, Oklahoma State gets 7 out of 8 of the categories of a successful NIL program.

The final school that is nominated for Best Institutional Program is Ohio State. You can find Ohio State’s NIL page by looking under the Athletics tab on the top of the Buckeyes website. After clicking the link, you are brought to a page that has a list of NIL resources for the university. Ohio State does a great job at making everything very simple and easy to access here.

 

The Buckeyes have their NIL guidelines and Ohio State Law as the first two items that are on the list. Scroll further and you will find guidelines, FAQs, and a flurry of other information. There is also a link to get in contact with the compliance staff or the head of their student-athlete development department for any NIL related questions that you  would have. As there is no NIL-specific employee listed on the website, it seems that the NIL duties might be split between the compliance office and the student-athlete development department.

 

Ohio State has a third-party partnership with Opendorse and Darlow Rules to provide education to their student-athletes and staff on NIL, what it is, what the process is like, and different courses on athlete brand building. From looking at the announcement article that Ohio State was partnering with Opendorse, it does not indicate that the Buckeyes have opted in to use Opendorse for a marketplace at this time. However, Ohio State student-athletes have two different third-party collectives that have goals of fostering deals and creating opportunities for them to have at their disposal. Just as the other collectives, we consider these two collectives to be marketplaces specifically for Ohio State athletes.

 

There is no NIL Directory of student-athletes on the Buckeyes website. Ohio State used to have a directory that would link you to rosters of the specific team you wanted, but has since transitioned to an inquiry-based system. Ohio State allows you to submit an inquiry if you want to connect with a specific student-athlete for a NIL deal through their “NIL Simplified” form. You fill out the form with your name, the student-athlete’s name and sport, and what the inquiry is about.

 

Ohio State explicitly says on the NIL page that “you may not use photos or videos containing Ohio State trademarks, logos, service marks, symbols, or other intellectual property in your NIL Activities.”

 

As for unique offerings, Ohio State’s Athletic Development department connects brands to student-athletes and designates NIL delegates for each team at the University. This is an extremely helpful and great hands-on approach to assisting athletes with NIL.

 

All in all, Ohio State has hit 5 out of 8 of the categories that we have listed as being components of a great NIL program.

Additional NIL Leaders: Program Comparison

In addition to the universities nominated for “Best NIL Program” by the NIL Summit, there are many other schools that have done great work for their student-athletes and have been trailblazers in the first year of NIL. We highlight an additional six here:

Universities ARIZONA FLORIDA LSU PENN STATE TEXAS WASHINGTON

3rd Party Partnerships

INFLCR, Altius Sports, Athliance

INFLCR

Altius Sports

INFLCR, Altius Sports, Spry

Opendorse

Opendorse

NIL Education

Altius Sports

INFLCR

Opendorse

Opendorse

Comprehensive Website with Policy and/or Guidelines

University Specific Marketplace or Agency

X

NIL-Specific Employee

X

Taylor Jacobs (listed as compliance coordinator but is the NIL Director)

X

X

NIL Directory of Athletes

X

X

X

“Coming Soon”

X

Use of Institutional IP

may only be used with prior written approval and a licensing agreement with the University of Arizona office of trademarks and licensing (which may include royalty or licensing fees)

“Student Athletes will only be allowed to use University or Athletic Department related marks and logos… if those rights have been secured through a written agreement granting specific rights from the University or written permission from the University.”

Per state law, student-athletes may not enter into a contract for use of their NIL that uses the licensed marks or logos of the University UNLESS the school has provided written permission in advance of signing the NIL contract.

Student-athletes must obtain prior approval if the student-athlete desires to utilize any Penn

State intellectual property (including appearing in uniform) in connection with their NIL

activities.

X

Texas state law prohibits SAs from earning NIL-compensation in exchange for property owned

by The University of Texas or Texas Athletics, or, for providing an endorsement while using

intellectual property or other property owned by The University of Texas or Texas Athletics.

Student-athletes may use the marks or IP of UW if the use of marks is approved by the University of Washington Marketing and Communications Office. All requests and intended use of marks must be submitted to UW before the NIL activity takes place for their review.

Unique Offerings

Partnership w/ college of management & law school

Courses for credit

Partners with SA Development and Alumni Relations to promote deals/networking for athletes, Provides digital portfolios to athletes, NIL Social media pages

X

Access to Longhorn Network, a tv network exclusively for Texas Athletics provide live game coverage, series, interviews and more to allow higher exposure for their athletes

Several courses that cover NIL topics in their business school,

TOTAL

6

7

6

5

6

8

a deeper dive

Arizona’s NIL program is titled “Arizona Edge” and can be found easily under the main menu on their athletics website. When you navigate to the NIL page for the Wildcats, you are immediately presented with their marketplace that is powered by INFLCR. Arizona is also currently partnered with Altius Sports Partners and Athliance.

 

Arizona’s Edge program is not just a marketplace specifically for Arizona athletes, but is also the name of their NIL educational program. The program is given guidance by the College of Management and the College of Law at the University of Arizona.

 

While on Arizona’s NIL website, it can be seen that Arizona provides a great FAQ section that discusses all of their policies and procedures regarding NIL. Further down on the front page is a great set of links to be able to guide you to any and everything concerning Arizona and NIL. What is not on Arizona’s NIL site is a directory of student-athletes for businesses to get in contact with. While looking through the staff directory, there was also no specific NIL position in the athletics department.

 

One of Arizona’s policies that is listed on their website is the policy on institutional property and trademarks/logos. Student-athletes are allowed to use the marks of the University as long as they have prior written approval and a licensing agreement. This, however, may include royalty fees for the use of such marks.

 

As stated before, for unique offerings, the athletic department is partnered with the College of Law and the College of Management. These partnerships are for furthering the success of their student-athletes and businesses in NIL and helping create mutually beneficial brand-strengthening opportunities.

 

With everything considered, Arizona is given a score of 6 out of 8 on our score sheet.

GatorsNIL, The University of Florida’s NIL program, can be found from the main menu under the Athletics tab on their website. Immediately after opening the homepage of GatorsNIL, you are presented with NIL policies, guidelines and an FAQ section.

 

The FAQ section and Florida NIL policy answers many important questions regarding NIL and what student-athletes can or can’t do. Within their policy, Florida provides that “Student Athletes will only be allowed to use University or Athletic Department [marks, logos, colors, uniforms, and intellectual property] if those rights have been secured through a written agreement granting specific rights from the University or written permission from the University.” Further, the policy also states that student-athletes must get approval for use of any athletic facilities in advance with possible rental fees applying.

 

Going back to the homepage for NIL, you will see that Florida has an NIL educational program that is run by the Hawkins Center. The Hawkins Center serves as Florida’s student-athlete academic, enhancement, and development center. The center provides several different classes for credit that all brush on topics related to NIL, including an entrepreneurship minor. Florida is also partnered with DPart of the team that runs the NIL program at Florida is Kevin Camps, who is their Senior Director of Creative Media and Branding.

 

Currently, Florida has several different collectives that have provided a marketplace specific to Florida athletes and also an INFLCR exchange to connect businesses to these student-athletes. What Florida unfortunately does not have is a directory of student-athletes for businesses to more easily connect with them.

 

With that being said, Florida has hit 7 out of 8 of the items on our checklist for a great NIL program!

The Tigers NIL program, NILSU, can be found on the home page of their website, under the Athletics tab, where many other schools have put the link to their NIL website. The first thing that you see on the NILSU site is a promotional video for NIL at LSU. Under that video are all the links to their NIL program, FAQs, policies, and state legislation.

 

The first link is an NIL FAQ, which answers questions not only for student-athletes but for businesses that are also interested in NIL at LSU. One of the policy questions answered in the FAQ discusses LSU’s intellectual property and NIL deals. Louisiana state law requires student-athletes to obtain written permission from the institution they attend to use any of their marks, logos, or intellectual property in an NIL deal.

 

One of the links back on the homepage of NILSU is a Student-Athlete NIL Directory, however the link does not work because the directory is “coming soon”. So, while LSU does not have a student-athlete directory, the department recognizes that having a student-athlete directory is essential for a great NIL program and is on the way to having one. Another component of a great NIL program that LSU unfortunately does not have is a university specific marketplace. LSU currently does not have a marketplace for their student-athletes to connect with businesses and to report NIL deals.

 

The person that has been in charge of NILSU is Taylor Jacobs. While she is listed as compliance coordinator on the staff directory, Taylor has now moved into NIL full time moving forward now that the 21-22 academic year is over. While working for NILSU, Taylor has been able to partner with different branches of the athletic department to bring great education and networking opportunities for student-athletes. NILSU was one of the first schools in the nation to host a town-hall type meeting that educated hundreds of businesses and partners of LSU on what NIL is and how to get involved with athletes. Additionally, NILSU has created social media accounts to further engage with their student-athletes – something very few athletic departments have done so far.

 

In conclusion, LSU will get a 6 out of 8 because of no student-athlete directory or university-specific marketplace.

Penn State’s NIL website is titled STATEment. The STATEment website is divided into several different categories where the information is sorted depending on who that information is for. The site contains FAQs and information for current and prospective student-athletes, current PSU partners, supporters of Penn State, collectives, and general information for anyone. 

 

If you scroll a bit further on the STATEment homepage, you can see that Penn State is currently partnered with INFLCR, Altius Sports Partners, and Spry, a compliance solution software. Penn State’s partnership with INFLCR is strictly for education, marketing, and branding purposes. While Penn State does not have a marketplace through INFLCR, Penn State currently has several different collectives that are working to provide NIL deals specifically for Penn State student-athletes.

 

Under the section for current-student athletes, you are able to find the NIL Policy of PSU. The policy and procedures statement lets us know that student-athletes need to obtain written permission to use any Penn State intellectual property (including team-issued uniforms) in any NIL deal.

 

While scrolling through the website, there was no NIL directory that we could find. While Penn State does not provide a directory, one of the collectives, Happy Valley Talent, provides profiles of different Penn State athletes that have signed up with the collective, and also links to different rosters back on the official PSU athletics website. The collective also provides a link to a Penn State University service that allows you to search for any student and gives you their student email and no other information. Penn State also does not currently have an employee whose duties are specifically NIL.

 

In conclusion, Penn State was able to hit checks for 5 of the 8 categories that we have listed.

Texas’ NIL program, Leverage, is very easy to find on the athletics website, as it has its own tab on the main drop-down menu. At first the NIL website for Texas looks like a news announcement about the Leverage program. That is, because it is. The article was originally posted on August 31st, 2020 which would make that almost two years old. It doesn’t seem that the article has been completely updated either, because the announcement references what Leverage “will” do for their student-athletes.

 

Nevertheless, Texas has linked several different items regarding NIL on the main menu of the NIL website. The first link is an overview of what Leverage is with access to FAQs, resources, and policies on that page. 

 

Texas is currently partnered with Opendorse. The partnership includes a university-specific marketplace, easy access to content from Texas athletics such as photos and videos, and personalized graphics. On top of the Opendorse marketplace, Texas currently has two collectives that also give Longhorn athletes access to a marketplace to connect with businesses and others for NIL deals. Businesses also have an easy way of getting in contact with athletes through the Leverage Lineup. The Leverage Lineup is Texas’ NIL directory. The lineup Lineup includes all athletes that have opted in to sharing their social media information and emails. Businesses can easily get in contact and look through the socials of these athletes that have opted in for this directory.

 

It does not seem like Texas currently has a person who only has NIL-specific duties. As many other schools, the NIL program could be divided between student-athlete development/enhancement, academic services, and/or compliance services. Texas also does not allow students to use any intellectual property of the university. “Texas state law prohibits SAs from earning NIL-compensation in exchange for property owned by The University of Texas or Texas Athletics, or, for providing an endorsement while using intellectual property or other property owned by The University of Texas or Texas Athletics.”

 

However, Texas has a unique offer in that they have the Longhorn Network. The Longhorn Network, powered through ESPN, is a TV channel that is available nationwide and only focuses on Texas athletics. This provides much more exposure for Texas student-athletes than most other institutions are able to provide their athletes.

 

All in all, Texas has ticked off 6 out of 8 of the items for a great NIL program.

Washington’s NIL website is not linked the same way as most other schools have theirs linked. You have to scroll down the homepage of Washington’s athletics website to see the link to their NIL website. When initially opening the site, it is clear that this is the most visually appealing site that I have seen for a school’s NIL site so far. Their NIL program is titled “Boundless Futures.”

 

Scrolling down the main page of the Boundless Futures website, Washington has stated that they have partnered with Opendorse to assist their student-athletes with personal branding and social media. Specifically, athletes will receive education and training on monetization, audience building, and  social media potential, while also having access to an NIL Educator. Through Boundless Futures, Washington has been able to partner with the business school and provide several courses that cover NIL topics for credit that are open to all students.

 

Washington does not have a partnership with Opendorse for a university-specific marketplace, but Husky student-athletes still have access to a marketplace through a third-party collective, Montlake Futures. The collective helps certain organizations work with Washington athletes to support, fundraise, and promote their missions. Washington does, however, have an NIL Directory for their student-athletes. This is on the homepage of Boundless Futures and is easily reachable by businesses and those interested in making an NIL deal.

 

UW’s homepage also links you to all FAQs and policies needed to understand the rules of NIL at the institution and in Washington. The policy regarding intellectual property use during NIL deals is as follows: “Student-athletes may use the marks or IP of UW if the use of marks is approved by the University of Washington Marketing and Communications Office. All requests and intended use of marks must be submitted to UW before the NIL activity takes place for their review.”

 

The person behind NIL at the University of Washington is the Assistant Director of NIL Education, Amber Bunch. Amber and the staff at Washington absolutely deserve a round of applause here, as UW is the only school, whether nominated for the INFLCR awards or not, to score an 8 out of 8 on our score sheet of what a great NIL program has.