Penn State head coach James Franklin stressed the urgency of NIL with Blue White Illustrated in an interview last month. The Nittany Lion football program, he said, was at a point all too familiar through his tenure in Happy Valley.
Just as the conversation surrounding upgraded facilities was met with mixed reaction, so too has that of support for name, image, and likeness opportunities for Penn State football players.
“We’re at a similar crossroads now with NIL,” Franklin said. “When the industry changes, whatever industry that you’re in, if you want to be as competitive or as successful as you possibly can within that industry, you have to change and be bold and aggressive in your changing. And we have been resistant.”
Next month, Lions Legacy Club is partnering to host a high-dollar NIL reception in Avalon, N.J. The event, called “We are! At the shore,” is set for July 27 from 6-10 p.m. at the Avalon Yacht Club.
Both Franklin and the Nittany Lion football program will be well-represented. Along with his participation, Penn State’s “star players” ahead of the 2023 season will also be in attendance to mingle with guests. Additionally, the invitation advertises former “letterman greats,” including Adam Taliaferro, set to be on hand for the event.
The gathering is set to have two separate portions, with accompanying price points, through the course of the evening.
From 6-8 p.m., Franklin will meet with guests for a “NIL discussion” alongside Penn State lettermen. NIL donations are priced at $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples to attend the first two hours. From 8-10 p.m., the event is set to turn into an “after party” in which current players will also be in attendance.
Advertised lettermen guests include LaVar Arrington, Brandon Short, Mike Mauti, Jordan Hill, Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg. Current players set to attend include Drew Allar, Nick Singleton, Kaytron Allen, Olu Fashanu, Chop Robinson, Abdul Carter and Curtis Jacobs, according to the ticketing site.
Tickets for the entire four-hour event, also featuring autographs, food, drink, and music, are priced at $5,000 for two. Separate, sponsor-level opportunities are also available for the event at $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000. Those giving levels include a picture with Franklin and the Rose Bowl trophy.
Penn State NIL urgency
The evening stands as the highest profile event and donation level held on behalf of the Penn State football program since the inception of NIL legislation two summers ago. And for Franklin, the urgency of not just ramping up NIL support, but also maximizing it immediately, is of the utmost importance.
“It’s been a little bit resistant from a historical perspective. It’s been a little bit resistant internally,” Franklin told BWI in May. “In the beginning, we didn’t embrace it as an athletic department. And then externally, trying to get people bought into it.
“To me, that’s the challenge is, if it’s just the coaches out pounding the drum, it’s gonna be difficult to get done. 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.”