Less than a month after Mattress Mack took home a $75 million sports betting win in the World Series, he has made a statement in the NIL space.
The owner of Houston’s Gallery Furniture, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale has pledged seven figures to Houston men’s basketball players in a partnership through the NIL collective LinkingCoogs. The second-ranked team in the nation, the Cougars are coming off of their first back-to-back Elite Eight appearances since the early 1980s.
LinkingCoogs, which launched in October, is dedicated to serving as a pathway for Houston businesses to connect with athletes.
The terms of the agreement were not disclosed. But for a new collective in the Houston market, receiving backing from one of the largest names in the Space City is a step in the right direction.
“This builds credibility,” LinkingCoogs spokesperson Landon Goesling told the Houston Chronicle. “It pole vaults us to get this thing rolling. To get a company like Gallery Furniture to support the kids … it’s just the beginning. This is a call for all Cougars to hop on the train.”
The collective has generated $1.6 million in deals since its launch, according to Goesling.
This is not the first time McIngvale has struck an NIL deal with members of the Houston men’s basketball program. Following last year’s NCAA tournament run, each member of the team received $3,000 for an autograph signing at Gallery Furniture, per the Chronicle.
Mattres Mack’s latest bet, however, involves Houston basketball. McIngvale placed a $500,000 bet to win $5 million on the Cougars winning the national championship this season.
In Year Nine of the Kelvin Sampson era, Houston is off to a 4-0 start, coming off of a win over Oregon.
“I like that UH has a program for the city,” McIngvale recently said. “I think that’s great for the city, after all they’re named Houston. Backing coach Samspon and the University of Houston men’s basketball program … it seemed like a no brainer to me.
“Backing a winner that’s a Houston sports team is the easiest thing I can do.”
Developing NIL collective market at Houston
LinkingCoogs is not the first Houston-focused NIL collective in the market. Hoop And Holler Houston is described as a “micro-collective” with an interest of supporting as many athletes as financially possible.
But the new collective has backing from former Cougars and current business leaders. Goesling, a former Houston basketball player, is a co-founder, along with Austin Elrod, Troy Kyle, Norman Stalarow and Greg Ralph.
Prior to launching in October 2022, LinkingCoogs completed deals worth in excess of $300,000. It also received grants and donations from local sources. Football and men’s basketball will be an early priority for the organization.
Staying competitive in college basketball requires a high-functioning NIL collective, just like college football. Multiple basketball-specific organizations have populated across the NIL landscape, focused on creating NIL opportunities for athletes.
The most high-profile basketball deal to date came when LifeWallet owner and Miami booster John Ruiz wrote on Twitter his company had signed Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack to an $800,000 NIL deal, plus a new car.
LinkingCoogs brokering a deal with Mattress Mack helps Houston basketball stay on the same competitive footing.