Harry Miller opens up about decision to donate all NIL earnings to efforts in Nicaragua

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Below is the transcript of Frerking and Miller’s talk.

We are joined today by Harry Miller, a junior offensive lineman at The Ohio State University, and likewise like myself from the Atlanta, Georgia area. Harry, thanks so much for coming on and talking with us, man. 

Harry Miller: No doubt. 

Just for starters, so people can kind of get a feel for your journey getting to Ohio State, why don’t you just talk about your recruiting cycle, how you got to Ohio State and what eventually landed you in Columbus, Ohio?

Harry Miller: That’s a really good question. I would say in the recruiting process, my final two schools were Stanford and Ohio State. I was going through the recruiting process, those were my sort of final two schools that I was really contemplating and Ohio state just made a really huge effort to advertise. I study mechanical engineering here and they just made a huge effort during recruiting to make a big deal out of the academic capacities of Ohio State. At the time, it was all under Coach Meyer and he just went through a lot of trouble to just make me feel very comfortable with this sort of status of me getting my education there, which was very important for me. So that was a huge aspect of the recruiting process. And along with that, there’s a, there’s a bunch of anecdotes. For example, perhaps one that’s easiest to share and doesn’t require the most storytelling is that I’ve been a part of a group going to Nicaragua for many years now. While I was there one time, I was in a market in Managua, Nicaragua. I was walking down this market and you know going down this back alley, and this was during my recruiting process, and there was this drawstring Ohio State bag in the middle of Nicaragua, Central America, hundreds of miles away from any sort of influence of college football. There were many, many things like that, that sort of just stacked up and convinced me that I should go to Ohio State. That’s where I ended up. So very cool journey.

No doubt and I’m going to talk more about you giving back to Nicaragua with your NIL earnings here in a little bit. But, for those who don’t know, maybe aren’t an Ohio State fan, it has been a unique season for you with your injury, but in the sense of NIL, it’s been a really cool season to see what you’ve been able to do and make the most of the opportunity you’ve had there. Want you to just touch on when you first learned about NIL and all college athletes across the country started rolling on July 1st.When did you decide what course of action you were going to take and when did you kind of put your plan together on how you were going to attack the new NIL era?

Harry Miller: Yeah, that’s sort of been a huge story for years, the rumblings of NIL and the prospect of name, image, likeness. At Ohio State, there were faculty at Ohio State that were a part of the legal and bureaucratic workings and machinery going on to sort of pass that through whatever bodies it needed to be passed through. So they were keeping us informed on all of that. Then of course it had got opened up, and for me, I’ve said this a bunch, I’m pretty content with everything. I’ve got my apartment, my guitar, and my books. I wasn’t really looking to increase my wealth or my status. I told my mom the only thing I want was a Lego Death Star, which I’ve wanted since I was a little kid. So, I never really had these huge ambitions to become a businessman or anything. My mom just talked about it, and I wasn’t thinking much of anything, but you know luckily my mom had more foresight than me and talked about starting a fundraiser for Nicaragua. That led to a good amount of revenue being able to be donated to them. Then I was able to be a part of the Allstate Good Works Team, and that came with its own financial reimbursement to donate to charity. So this year, just through my endeavors, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, and just random donations, we’ve been able to cover in this six-month period enough money to cover an entire year of operation for our school in Nicaragua, which is just a phenomenal thing to be able to stay. It’s turned out to be really spectacular and all within its infancy in six months of getting off the ground. So it’s been a really, really cool turnaround and I’m glad that it opened up because prior to that, it would be difficult to sort of corral aid and into anything. I heard stories, like in hurricane-affected areas or tornado-affected areas years prior, if guys wanted to get donations together, it was really hard to deal with the prior NCAA rule. It’s been a really great six months.

Well man, and it has just been so cool to see what you’re doing and how you chose to give that money to those who really need it down there. Talk about the revenue stream of you know bringing in that money and getting it down there other than the Allstate Good Work Team, what is the other source of revenue to put this fund together to send money down there? 

Harry Miller: Yeah. The largest, the preliminary one was clothing that had my name on it. Which it seems sort of banal or trite because a lot of people do that. But it was an easy way, we generated within a few weeks, more than a thousand dollars that we could get down to people. You know of course, I’ve got strong word to say with the government and tax collecting, but the way we worked the money through it, like it went through me but I didn’t take any of it. But because for a time I had it, I will have to pay taxes on money that isn’t even mine, but it’s getting to where it needs to go. In addition to that, it’s been $10,000 here, $10,000 there. It’s sort of great to see everything just come out of the woodwork and see how eager people are to help and people are really eager to help, but weren’t afforded that ability in the past with the prior roles. So that’s been great to see that opened up, and I think that’s the case nationally for a lot of guys. I just saw Linderbaum donated like $30,000 to a Iowa Hospital. It’s just stories like that, that are happening all over the place. It’s been really great to see.

Yeah, 100%. Has Buckeye nation been supportful of this new initiative? Has has there been involvement from a lot of people in the Buckeye community or as it been nationwide?

Harry Miller: Yeah, I would say a lot of it is the Buckeye community and of course Ohio State has a  great alumni network and so that ends up becoming a nationwide endeavor. Then in addition, just people from back home in Buford were very supportive. So, I’m very grateful for the support and of course any support for me ended up becoming support for people in Nicaragua. Whether it would be getting food or medicine or any sort of assistance that way. Just nothing but a huge amount of gratitude.

Well Harry, that is just awesome. You know, as a fellow student-athlete, that’s been involved in NIL and someone that’s also a leader in this space now that’s seen so many different uses of student-athletes using the money they’ve made for a variety of different ways. This is truly awesome. You know, me thanking you definitely isn’t enough. I know the people down in Nicaragua are far more grateful than I am to be saying thank you for doing this. But the way you’ve used this new era and shown people that NIL isn’t destroying college athletics, and you can actually put it for good use is truly amazing. So in that sense, I say thank you. I wanted you to have the opportunity as we wrap up to just give any piece of advice for whether it’s a fellow teammate, any student-athlete listening across the country, or an athlete on the recruiting trail right now looking to put a plan together for NIL, what would be your tips for them as they enter this era?

Harry Miller: Yeah, I would say don’t be so eager to get money that you compromise on things that are really important. Because just as I know guys who are doing tremendous things, I also know guys who are very eager to get quick money. And because of that, they’ve essentially sold the majority of public stock on their soul to a bunch of these different small groups where they’re, you can see on guys social media feeds and some guys are lucky they don’t have to put a sticker on their head and walk around advertising for somebody else. But I would just say, if you do the right thing and you keep believing in the right thing, all the NIL stuff will take care of itself. You don’t need to worry about maximizing your profits or you don’t need to sell yourself out to do what you need to do. So that’d be my biggest piece of advice.

Well, there it is. Words of advice from Harry Miller on how to tackle the NIL era, Harry, thanks so much for taking your time to join us today and best of luck to you and your team in the Rose Bowl here in a couple of days.

Harry Miller:  Thank you. You as well.