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LinkingCoogs brokers $1 million team-wide NIL deal for Houston football

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos04/19/23


Team-wide NIL deals make sure every athlete sees some compensation come their way. But it’s also a way to guarantee a salary for each member of a team.

LinkingCoogs has brokered another deal for Houston athletics, this time bringing a $1 million partnership to the Cougars football team through Daspit Law Firm. Run by the injury attorney John Daspit, the firm inked agreements with the entire Houston basketball team back in December.

The collective’s director of sales and development Landon Goesling told On3 the exact figures are still being worked out. Houston has roughly 75 players on scholarship this spring with another 30 as walk-ons. LinkingCoogs plans to make the NIL deal available to every athlete on the team. If the $1 million was dispersed evenly amongst 100 players, each would receive $10,000.

“It’s gonna touch every athlete who plays football at the University of Houston,” he said on the phone on Tuesday night. “Working through those details as we speak. Obviously, that’s a high number, a million dollars, a lot of money. So, just trying to figure out exactly what John Daspit, how he wants it to look.”

The $1 million deal brings the total amount of partnerships facilitated by LinkingCoogs to more than $3.2 million since October, Goesling said. Houston finished 8-5 last season in Year 4 of the Dana Holgorsen, winning the Independence Bowl.

But starting this summer the Cougars officially enter the Big 12. Goesling said it’s become a focus for the for-profit collective. The talent level is obviously going to change. The Cougars should be able to easily make the jump on the hardwood; Houston made it to the Sweet 16 last month in basketball and was the top-ranked team in the country for seven weeks.

Making sure Holgorsen and Houston can quickly make up any gap in football is slightly different, which is why Goesling was so excited about bringing this deal in from Daspit.

“He wanted to step up and really make a difference and a splash with our football team,” he said. “He knows how much it means to those kids. Like I said, he’s got a relationship with them now. That speaks to what we’re doing as a company in the customer service aspect, and really focusing and honing in on the return on investment.”

‘Imperative’ for Houston to win in NIL

LinkingCoogs signed NIL deals with incoming transfers LJ Cryer and Damian Dunn. The agreements were announced just days after the duo transferred to Houston, from Baylor and Temple, respectively.

NIL has become a way for top college basketball and football programs to retain talent, it’s also been used to attract talent in high school recruitment and the portal. It’s no different for Houston. Star guard Marcus Sasser left for the NBA and shooting guard Tramon Mark left for Arkansas.

Restocking the backcourt was on top of the to-do list this off-season. Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson pulled it off, but Goesling said piecing together the partnerships soon after their commitments were vital.

“It’s imperative,” he said. “I mean, more from the point of whether the athlete’s here or whether the student-athletes are coming here. Just knowing that, ‘Hey, the University of Houston has a collective that is up and running. It’s rolling, and this is what’s happening now.’ Not selling on future dreams or whatever. But this is the system we have in place. This is what could be available to you with opportunities to partner with companies and so on and so forth.

“I mean, if you don’t have a collective it’s almost impossible [to compete].”

LinkingCoogs has raised all of its money since its launch this past fall from business partnerships. The owner of Houston’s Gallery Furniture, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale pledged seven figures to Cougars’ basketball in November. Plus, Daspit has now committed $2 million.

For all the success, that has to become sustained for Houston to truly compete at the level it wants to in the Big 12. Houston does have a school-specific NIL marketplace with Opendorse. But LinkingCoogs has become one of the largest deal facilitators for Cougar athletes.

Goesling said the collective plans to roll out some new features in the coming months, opening up a few avenues for fans to become more involved. The collective also has an apparel store benefitting athletes. The balance will be tapping into donor support yet keeping Houston businesses content with their investments.

“It just keeps coming, and it’s a good thing,” Goesling said. “Perfect timing for us, really. Our basketball team has led the way going to the Big 12. Everyone in the city of Houston kind of naturally being a professional-sports-oriented fan. I mean, it’s the third largest city in the country, so the amount of businesses and opportunities are unreal. And now we’re kind of starting to fire some people up and starting to get a lot more Coog fans, which is good. … The majority of it is new money, new donors, new supporters, and new fans. So that’s been the cool, fun way and how we set up business-wise.

“We’re really going after NIL kind of what how it was intended for partnerships — partnerships with companies. Seeing that adds value, obviously to the university as well, because you got new fans, you got a new donor base. More people are locked in.”