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LinkingCoogs facilitates team-wide NIL deal for Houston basketball valued at over $350K

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos10/12/23


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Houston basketball has reloaded yet again.

Despite losing Marcus Sasser and Damian Dunn, Kelvin Sampson restocked his talent pool. The Cougars added transfers LJ Cryer and Damian Dunn. Double-figure scorers Jamal Shead and J’Wan Roberts are back, too.

Houston has had multiple preseason top-10 rankings. As one of the biggest shows in the Space City, they’ve also become a magnet for NIL deals. Working with the Houston-driven NIL collective LinkingCoogs, the team has signed a number of notable partnerships.

The latest to be announced is with Daspit Law Firm. Facilitated through LinkingCoogs, the deal is worth upwards of $350,000, LinkingCoogs co-founder Landon Goesling told On3.

The full terms of the season-long deal weren’t shared, but it’s another large NIL investment in the Cougars. Plans are for the team to fulfill marketing work for the law firm and promote it throughout social media channels, along with commercial shoots and billboards popping up around Houston. This comes after Daspit signed a $1 million NIL deal with Houston’s football team in April.

“On behalf of TheLinkU, we want to personally thank John Daspit and Daspit Law Firm for their continued support of University of Houston student-athletes,” Goesling said. “I think this is a perfect example of our strategic approach in generating ROI for certain companies. Daspit Law Firm has gained massive exposure through its deals with University of Houston student-athletes. It again just solidifies our model of maximizing marketing budgets.

“We are excited for all that this partnership entails and look forward to sharing some of these marketing campaigns with Daspit Law Firm in the near future.”

If all 14 players on Houston’s roster earn an even share of the NIL deal, that’s at least $25,000 for each athlete. It’s a major investment in the Houston basketball program. The brunt of collectives that have emerged in NIL’s first 26 months have opted to raise funds while others have registered as nonprofits. Unlike most, LinkingCoogs does not accept donations on its website. Instead, the collective facilitates deals with local businesses.

The Cougars were a No. 1 seed entering March’s NCAA tournament, eventually falling in the Sweet 16 to Miami. They finished 33-4 on the season, however, and were the top-ranked team in the country for seven weeks.

LinkingCoogs builds strong program for Houston basketball

While Daspit’s commitment to Houston basketball marks another significant moment, it’s not the largest deal LinkingCoogs has facilitated for the players. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale signed another team-wide NIL deal with the Cougars valued at $1 million back in July. It was the second time in less than a year the owner of Houston’s Gallery Furniture and notorious sports bettor has committed upwards of seven figures to the Cougars.

Part of the reason behind Mattress Mack’s timing of the deal was for it to launch when the team made their trip to Australia, allowing redshirt freshman center Cedric Lath, a native of the Ivory Coast, to participate.

Back in March, the Houston-focused collective had facilitated more than $2 million in NIL deals. That number has since surpassed $5 million and is now approaching $5.5 million.

With the jump to the Big 12, Houston has had to compete in the ever-evolving NIL landscape. It’s really one of the only questions about Sampson’s program entering this upcoming season – how will the Cougars handle the jump to the Big 12? The NIL arms race has emerged as the biggest theme in college football and basketball since the NCAA allowed athletes to begin monetizing their publicity rights back in July 2021.

While the University of Houston does have a school-specific NIL marketplace with Opendorse, LinkingCoogs has become the largest deal facilitator for Cougar athletics. Austin Elrod, Troy KyleNorman Stalarow and Greg Ralph founded the venture, bringing on Goesling to help run the operation.

Goesling was formerly both a Houston guard and grad assistant. Athletes are compensated by partnerships procured by the collective. On LinkingCoogs’ website, businesses can fill out a form to set up an NIL deal.

The formula has worked. The same format by LinkU is now in use at Florida Atlantic, Texas State, North Texas and the College of Charleston. More schools are expected to be announced in the coming week.

“To see how far we’ve come and the momentum we’ve gained in 11 months, obviously speaks a lot to our university and everyone on staff at the university, all of our student-athletes and great membership partners,” Goesling previously told On3. “But most importantly, our hard work. It’s kind of a snowball effect, right? One turned into three that turned into seven. Now this thing is really, really rolling.”