For Ohio State to continue to find success on the field, NIL opportunities are a must. Buckeyes’ head coach Ryan Day made that known earlier this summer when he delivered his $13 million ultimatum to Columbus, Ohio, business leaders.
Now their donation-based collective, The Foundation, has helped broker the largest NIL deal ever involving the school’s athletes. Quarterback C.J. Stroud, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, running back TreVeyon Henderson and defensive back Denzel Burke are featured in the deal, which totals $550,000.
The quarterback-wide receiver duo is set to partner with Designer Shoe Warehouse, while the other two Ohio State stars will star in a campaign with American Eagle. Stroud, who is a preseason Heisman favorite, also has a solo deal with Value City Furniture.
All four Buckeyes are clients of NIL Management, a Columbus-based firm that focuses on brokering deals for student-athletes. The Foundation’s CEO and co-founder Brian Schottenstein brought the deals to the table, while NIL Management co-founder Zach Beebe and his staff finalized contract negotiations.
The six-month contract calls for two lump sum payments. Each player is earning a different rate of compensation for their involvement in the partnership. For Schottenstein and his collective, however, this provides a direct answer to Day’s call before football season.
“This is a way to keep the momentum going,” he told On3. “Our recruiting class right now is No. 1 in the country for 2023. I think having The Foundation collective in place is definitely helping because a lot of our recruits are able to see that we’re doing large deals, raising good money for the student-athletes, and hopefully it’ll help make their decision to come to Ohio State over another school.”
Stroud has an On3 NIL Valuation of $2.4 million, which ranks No. 5 in the On3 NIL 100. Smith-Njigba is not far behind, ranking 11 overall with a $1.4 million valuation. Henderson has an NIL value of $713k, while Burke’s sits at $154k.
Details of record-setting Ohio State deal
For Schottenstein and Beebe, the path to actually getting ink on contracts was a long time coming. Negotiations between the companies started back in April and were finally signed last week.
Plans are in place for the players to participate in photoshoots with their respective companies, television ads could also be a possibility. Beebe told On3 that these duties will be fulfilled before the start of the season.
The six-figure deal also took time to locate the right athletes for the deal. Schottenstein said The Foundation’s board, which includes former stars such as Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, met to discuss the opportunity.
“We’ve been approached multiple businesses, but we kind of approached these three together,” Schottenstein said. “And with the idea to raise money for the student-athletes, and then we kind of decided which athletes we thought we would best fit with their brand. And also would it be good for them to team up with these brands.”
This is the largest deal The Foundation has executed to date. Collectives, which are independent of a university, can serve a variety of purposes. Most often, they pool funds from boosters and businesses, help facilitate NIL deals for athletes and also create their own ways for athletes to monetize their brands.
“We need to build a proper collective at Ohio State to compete with Texas and all other top-tier schools,” Beebe told On3. “This is just another step in that direction.”
Future plans for The Foundation, Ohio State
C.J. Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TreVeyon Henderson and Denzel Burke will all appear at The Foundation’s fundraiser in August. They will also be fulfilling part of their charity component by meeting with children with special needs from LifeTown and others with life-threatening conditions from A Kid Again.
The organization announced Wednesday that Buckeyes head coaches Ryan Day and Chris Holtmann will be on hand for the exclusive event on Aug. 22 at the Blackwell Hotel in Columbus. Both coaches will speak about leadership and how NIL has impacted Ohio State athletics.
The price points for admission to attend the event have also been released. Two tickets to the event run $1,000. A table for 10 including a photo with Holtmann and Day can be purchased for $10,000. Schottenstein previously told On3 all profits from the event will go directly to student-athletes.
“We’re going to continue to raise money for The Foundation that gets us the support of student-athletes,” Schottenstein added. “And we’ve supported around 20 total student-athletes so far, and we’re going to be doing more throughout the year.”