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A lot of promises are made in the NIL era of collegiate athletics. Not all of them are kept.
At BYU specifically, there is a lot of frustration amongst its football players.
It is not a secret that Brigham Young University football is not the most affluent program in the country when it comes to Name, Image and Likeness funds. That isn’t to say that it is broke, but there is a discrepancy in regard to finances when compared to “blue blood,” Power Five programs.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis is the perfect example.
However, in the middle of fall camp last summer, the Cougars received a pledge that was fairly uncommon in the space. Built Bar CEO Nick Greer said that his company would continue to pay tuition for walk-ons, and provide every scholarship player with $1,000 each.
The deal was the first of its kind when announced a year prior, and was set to renew for another season. In addition, Greer announced that Built would sell a BYU-specific ‘CougarTail’ bar.
15% of the profits from the CougarTail bar would go directly to athletes who signed an NIL contract with Built. Greer told them that Built had already sold $150,000 of the product.
Now, almost a year later, some but not all of the promises have been kept.
Built paid tuition for the walk-ons. It gave each scholarship player $1,000.
Built supposedly has not paid out BYU athletes for CougarTail.
Multiple BYU players say that the 15% of sales has not been distributed.
It didn’t sit well with us. We were posting [about Built[ and weren’t seeing any of the money.— one anonymous BYU football player said to The Salt Lake Tribune
To make the whole thing even more confusing, BYU and Built have not been on the same page. The two sides have offered different understandings of where the CougarTail money is, and whether/when it will be paid out.
Built pushed back on the idea that it has not made good on its promises. It has contributed more than $1 million to BYU football via NIL. Every walk-on and scholarship player has received their money.
NIL right now is littered with deals falling through the cracks. I want to be careful because Built has done something that has been amazing for the BYU football program. I worry that sometimes we focus on these little misunderstandings. Built has exceeded every commitment that has been made to players.— Billy Nixon, director of sports marketing at Built, via The Salt Lake Tribune
Players would disagree with the idea that “every commitment” has been met, or exceeded. They say that they never got paid their percentage of sales from CougarTail.
Built is not alone in false promises.
Unfortunately, as the NIL world continues to go largely unchecked, there are a lot of deals that have not gone according to plan all across the country. In Provo, it is said to go beyond just Built.
OhanaX, a local student-athlete brand marketing agency, promised “life-changing money” for athletes that signed with the company. It later brokered a deal with BYU athletes and FTX, a crypto exchange platform.
Each BYU athlete that was to sign with FTX was promised $500. And then FTX went bankrupt. Athletes received just $100. OhanaX folded shortly thereafter.
BYU later teamed up with Ocavu, a company that was to sell NFT for Cougars athletes. Ocavu owner Jon Cheney said that the deal could be worth millions of dollars.
Even though some of the NFTs sold, the players never got paid.
Other deals that were tossed around by BYU never came to fruition at all. Huggies Diapers and Dollar Shave Club were thrown out as potential partners in the NIL space for Cougars. Neither happened.
It felt like BYU was telling us what we wanted to hear to keep us happy, but it never actually happened. People would present and say it was ‘life-changing money.’ Then nothing.— one anonymous BYU football player said to The Salt Lake Tribune
This is happening all across the country. Deals are falling through. Things never come to exist.
It’s hard to tell when coaches are being genuine in their promises. That trickles all of the way down to the recruiting trail.
The NIL era is still in its infancy. There are a lot of things that go unchecked. That is going to continue to happen, until regulation is put into effect. In the meantime, athletes are put in the unfortunate position of uncertainty, like BYU athletes who were told one thing and delivered another— or nothing.