Coaches, administrators embrace latest guidance for NIL collectives

On3 imageby:Andy Wittry11/03/22


Buried below the mundane headline announcing the NCAA’s latest NIL guidance lied the explicit permission for college coaches and administrators to request donations to the NIL collectives aligned with their institutions.

The NCAA said it is permissible if a “staff member assists NIL entity in raising money for NIL entity” through an appearance at a fundraiser or by donating autographed memorabilia.

Athletic department employees can “request donor to provide funds to NIL entity” as long as it’s not earmarked for a specific sport or athlete.

That’s exactly what coaches and administrators around the country have done in the week since.

Perhaps most notably, Tennessee Director of Athletics Danny White posted a video on Twitter in which he promoted multiple collectives that support Tennessee athletes.

“Please support the Lady Vol Boost Her Club, Spyre Sports and their Volunteer Club,” White said. “These collectives have made it their mission to support our student-athletes and help Tennessee athletics be the best that we can be.”

In August, On3 named Spyre Sports Group the most ambitious collective in the country.

“Moving forward, let’s continue to be aggressive, even more aggressive, but with 100% compliance within the rules, operating with the highest level of integrity,” White said.

White started the video by specifically referencing the NCAA’s latest guidelines. Before the NCAA’s recent announcement in late October, there were examples of schools whose coaches and administrators publicly supported the collectives that support their athletes, but now the NCAA has provided clear permission in writing.

Ohio State coaches, AD attended fundraiser in August

Athletic departments have previously promoted on their websites the collectives that support their athletes. Arizona did this in February. So did Virginia Tech in April.

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery and women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder were in attendance for the introductory press conference for the Swarm Collective.

On3 asked Ferentz at Big Ten Football Media Days about the relationship between Iowa’s coaches and the Swarm Collective CEO Brad Heinrichs.

“I think I speak for everyone on campus who is just appreciate of his interest and his willingness to help,” Ferentz said.

However, these occurrences of public promotion arguably felt like outliers in the moment. They’ll soon be more and more ordinary.

In August, the Ohio State collective, The Foundation, held a fundraiser at The Blackwell Inn, where Director of Athletics Gene Smith, football coach Ryan Day and men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann were present.

“We have some people here who really put themselves out there to try to help our young men and that’s what it’s all about,” Day said at the podium at the event. “We’re here for our guys.”

Numerous Ohio State athletes, including quarterback C.J. Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, were present.

Two tickets were available for a donation of $1,000 or more and a table of 10 was available for a donation $10,000 or more. There was also a live auction, where two of the experiences were dinners for four guests with Day or Holtmann at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse.

“The Foundation’s been phenomenal,” Holtmann said at the event. “They have really been tremendous but it is a collaborative effort. I think for us to be able to do the things we need to do and for football and all the sports, I think it’s gonna be a collaborative effort.”

Smith, speaking about co-founders Brian Schottenstein and former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, added, “Unbelievable job that you guys have done. You embraced something new in our space and started early. You listened and you really, really took it off and went after it.”

Day, Holtmann and Smith’s promotion for, and participation on behalf of, The Foundation was permissible then. Now, after the NCAA’s latest guidelines, it might as well be required for athletic departments or programs that want to compete at the highest level.

Auburn, Iowa, San Francisco, Tennessee support NIL collectives

Tennessee isn’t the only athletic department that has publicly embraced an NIL collective in the days following the NCAA’s issuance of its latest guidance.

The day the clarification was handed down, Tyler Barnes, the director of recruiting for Iowa’s football program, tweeted, “It’s time to throw out a huge thank to [Brad Heinrichs] for everything he’s done to build [the Swarm Collective]. A true #Hawkeye who is working his tail off for our Student Athletes.”

The day after the NCAA’s latest guidance, San Francisco Director of Athletics Larry Williams and men’s basketball coach Chris Gerlufsen gave shoutouts to recently launched The Hilltop Club at the athletic department’s Tip Off Reception.

Colorado interim football coach Mike Sanford promoted the recently launched Buffs4Life NIL Collective at his weekly press conference. The Twitter account for Mississippi State‘s athletic department shared The Bulldog Initiative, which Dak Prescott supports, “needs your support.”

Auburn men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl and baseball coach Butch Thompson filmed a video on behalf of the Auburn-focused collective On To Victory. On To Victory shared the video on its Twitter account last weekend.

“On To Victory is the NIL collective of the Auburn Tigers and they’re leading the way,” Pearl said.

Thompson added, “I encourage everyone to go to and be ready for Roll On To Victory Day.”

Former Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin was noticeably absent from the video and he was fired two days later.

“We have a strong NIL collective,” On To Victory Executive Director Brett Whiteside since told On3’s Jeremy Crabtree. “So, I’m excited that’s a tool that our next set of coaches is going to be able to utilize in recruiting.”

For many programs and many schools, the coaches already are.