In an event presented by Golden Touch, a collective working with Notre Dame athletes, and entertainment agency WME Sports, some 20 athletes from Notre Dame, Holy Cross and St. Mary’s came together on Monday to collaborate with scores of national brands at Villa Macri Ristorante in Granger, Indiana. This was billed as a first-of-its-kind event in the NIL Era. But it won’t be the last of its kind.
“There has never been an event in Name, Image and Likeness where more than 15 national brands have come together to work with athletes across multiple sports for NIL,” Peter Schoenthal, senior manager of NIL with WME, told On3. “It was awesome – better than we expected. We are looking to do many more of these. It’s about building this the right way so athletes – not just football and basketball – are able to capitalize on their NIL while creating a sustainable model.”
The event, called “Holidays Come Early: An NIL Celebration,” marked the latest notable development in the partnership between Golden Touch and WME Sports, a business relationship announced in August that is believed to be the first between a university-specific NIL organization and a global agency.
PlayBooked, which connects athletes and brands, also played a role in Monday’s event, which included athletes across multiple sports and more than $45,000 of product.
The 18 companies represented included: Bose, Oakley, Mizzuno, Honest Company, Kroger, Smart Cups, Ten Thousand, Mizzen+Main, Vuori, American Eagle, Backbone, Scuf, Red Bull, Nocco, Athletic Brewing, Prime and Duke Cannon.
Additionally, six athletes received custom suits from Pearce Bespoke.
Athletes can capitalize on NIL in ‘much broader sense’
Athletes who attended are now “going to have great content, which we are helping them put together, and they’re going to be able to say they’ve worked with these brands, which is going to allow them to capitalize on their NIL in a much broader sense, in a larger scope,” Schoenthal said.
Garrett Yaralian, head of WME’s NIL division, told On3: “WME is very excited to host our first event with Golden Touch to bring opportunities to student-athletes across multiple sports. Our brand partners have been a tremendous help in putting this event together. This will be the first of many events where we are bringing real NIL opportunities to a wide range of student-athletes in order to show the true nature of NIL.”
More broadly, the goal of the Golden Touch-WME Sports partnership is to advance NIL opportunities for all student-athletes and create innovative new ways to engage with fans, alumni and brands. Launched in 2022, Golden Touch works with student-athletes at Notre Dame as well as St. Mary’s College and Holy Cross College, which together make up South Bend’s tri-campus community.
Since the NIL era began more than two years ago, WME Sports has sought to support athletes with NIL deals, as well as business, marketing, and content strategy. The agency is now advising Golden Touch and its student-athletes and is an educational resource, planning to conduct regular seminars for students to expand their strengths in personal brand building, media communication, financial literacy and sports marketing.
WME Sports has previously developed strategies and built NIL businesses for a wide swath of athletes, including men’s basketball stars Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Gradey Dick(Kansas), Cam Whitmore (Villanova) and DJ Wagner (Kentucky) as well as football standouts Evan Stewart (Texas A&M) and Maason Smith (LSU).