Now the former Nittany Lion tight end is working with the NIL collective to launch the “Race to 107.” A kickoff NIL campaign specifically benefitting Penn State football, the goal is to reach $107,000. The fundraising goal is a nod to Beaver Stadium‘s capacity of 107,000.
In today’s world of college football, a high-functioning NIL collective has become necessary for programs to stay competitive in recruiting and the transfer portal. According to Breneman, Penn State is currently behind in the NIL landscape. The goal is to hit the $107K mark before the Week 1 season opener against West Virginia.
“Let’s start with the good news: We have the best fanbase in college football,” Breneman said in a video released on X announcing the campaign. “When the whole world was against us, I have seen this fanbase rally together and show the world what ‘We Are’ really means. Here’s the reality of the situation we’re in right now: Penn State football is behind when it comes to NIL, and we shouldn’t be.
“As coach [James] Franklin says, ‘You can’t pick and choose what you want to compete in, in college football. You can’t compete in the weight room and the stadium, but not compete in NIL.’ It’s time we change that and become the leader in NIL that we should be.”
A four-star prospect coming out of high school, Breneman was one of the first highly-touted recruits to commit to Bill O’Brien. The tight end spent two years in Happy Valley, earning Freshman All-American honors in 2013. He finished his college career at UMass, winning All-American honors in 2018. Mercury has launched the “State Media” content network, with former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg leading the initiative.
Penn State fans have options to pledge their support at five different levels:
· $50 for Nittany Lion Supporter
· $107 for 107,000 strong in Beaver Stadium
· $520 for 52 Bowl Appearances
· $920 All-Time Wins
· $1,973 Year John Cappelletti won the Heisman Trophy
As of Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. ET, the 107 Fund has raised $16,296 with donations from 185 supporters. Fundraising has become vital to NIL collective’s success. Groups have become responsible for bankrolling NIL deals. Much of that comes through donations.
The Tennessee-driven Spyre Sports Group has executed 1,400 deals since July 2021. The collective told On3 in February the Volunteer Club had procured $13.5 million in NIL deals. Miami booster John Ruiz reportedly spent $10 million in the first year of NIL. And West Virginia’s Country Roads Trust collective launched a “Million Dollar May” campaign, bringing in $730,000.
Happy Valley United’s reorganization backed by Penn State
Happy Valley United was formed in June, creating a singular, consolidated collective. Up until then, Success With Honor and the Lions Legacy Club were competing for donor dollars. Penn State athletic director Pat Kraft led the cohesive NIL strategy, with partnerships with Doug Fillis of Accelerate Sports Ventures and Rob Sine, co-founder and CEO of Blueprint Sports.
Within the Happy Valley United umbrella, Penn State football will be served by the Lions Legacy Club brand. It will utilize a paid, dedicated staff specific to Penn State’s needs, and have resources working exclusively toward generating NIL investment for the Nittany Lion football program. The same will be true for men’s basketball, with a yet-to-be-named branding for its silo.
Aimed at supporting all 800-plus Penn State athletes, the announcement of the merger had the sign-off from Kraft. The Lions Legacy Club held an exclusive season kickoff event: ‘We Are… at the Shore!’ at the Avalon Yacht Club in New Jersey in July, with current and former players in attendance.
James Franklin also spoke to a crowd of donors. The Penn State head coach has put his support behind the collective while emphasizing the Nittany Lions still have come catching up in the space.
“If it’s just the coaches out pounding the drum, it’s gonna be difficult to get done,” he said in June. “That’s where, when the AD is pounding the same drum as the coaches, whether it’s for facilities or whether it’s NIL, I think more people are open to listening. Because they’re hearing it from multiple sources. So, that’s just the reality.
“If you say, ‘What do we need to do to stay at this level or higher year in and year out?’ We’re still behind in that area.”