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What are NIL Collectives?

By Chris Tulley

NIL collectives are the new wave to allow collegiate athletes to monetize their own personal brand. Collectives are popping up all around the country completely changing the way we think about collegiate athletes earning revenue. The big question is, what is a NIL collective and why are they being formed independent of universities all around the country?

An NIL collective is an organized group that is formed independently by fans/alumni of a given university. These groups then pool together money from boosters, fans, businesses and anyone else who wants to donate to the collective of their favorite school. The funds these collectives pool together are then used to facilitate NIL deals for the athletes of the university. These deals can include appearances, autographs, merchandise, and more to allow these collegiate athletes to earn passive income while being a student-athlete.

In some circumstances, a collective sounds a lot like a business or corporation and in a lot of ways is very similar. The NIL concept for collegiate athletes is still a very new thought, and something that is being tested in several different ways. Let's take a look at some established collectives and what they look like according to and created by On3 NIL:

  • Alabama (High Tide Traditions) Founders: Businessman and attorney Larry Morris, along with Paul Register, Tripp Powell and Cole Price. The buzz: This collective wants to create positive business relationships locally and nationally. Student-athletes will be positioned to heighten the exposure for business partners through authentic content, appearances and other services.

  • Florida (Gator Collective) Founders: Former Florida baseball player Eddie Rojas and wife Kelli Rojas. The buzz: The collective strives to provide fans with access to, and experiences with, athletes. Fans commit to a monthly pledge, starting at $5.99 per month. Fans receive autographs, interviews, social media content, appearances and other fan engagement opportunities.

  • Kentucky (The Big Blue Legacy) Founder: Fred Johnson, CEO of The Virtus Brand. The buzz: The collective works with The Virtus Brand, an independent company created to help players with NIL opportunities, to facilitate the NIL process. The Big Blue Legacy allows prominent business leaders from across the state to support UK athlete NIL opportunities through pledges to The 15 Fund. The fund has a board of directors composed of former UK athletes. The goal: Create a marketplace to support all 29 of UK’s varsity sports programs.

These are just a few examples of some collectives that have been established and what their initiatives are. Each collective is established with different goals and priorities in order to establish a marketplace for the student-athletes to earn revenue based on their NIL. Due to the nature of collectives being such a new concept, there are concerns regarding the intentions of such collectives. Will they be used as a recruiting tool to recruit top prospects to come to a given university? Will the services be clearly outlined for the athlete to follow so they aren’t just accepting money to attend a school? These are all questions that will need to be sorted out as NIL continues to grow and be established. However, it’s a great start when it comes to NIL services and allowing student-athletes to earn passive income.

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