Newly-Formed Partnership Will Create More NIL Opportunities For Tennessee Athletes

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In the new era of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), many companies are struggling to find ways to help student athletes maximize their opportunities with businesses. But with a new partnership formed by Spyre Sports Group and Opendorse, life just became a lot simpler for Tennessee athletes looking to monetize their brand.

Spyre Sports Group, a media and marketing agency based in Knoxville, has teamed up with Opendorse, a sports technology company that maximizes endorsement value for athletes. This partnership will help “to provide a streamlined experience for the athletes to compliantly manage opportunities from start to finish.” The group will work with donors to put together NIL deals from which both businesses and the student athletes can benefit.

Once the new law went into place, student athletes needed someone to help bridge the gap between businesses and themselves, and Spyre has been at the forefront of that since the beginning. The Spyre Sports Group is being led by University of Tennessee graduates James Clawson, Hunter Baddour and Sheridan Gannon. This group has already been involved within the NIL landscape around Knoxville, securing deals for multiple Tennessee athletes across many different sports.

The problem for some athletes in the new NIL era is the complexity of making sure they get everything right when putting together an agreement or a business partnership. Well, this will be solved by Opendorse, an app that will help athletes navigate their way through opportunities, contracts, payment processing, and activities disclosure necessary for compliance. The athletes have to pay taxes with these deals, so the app will also help prepare any necessary tax forms.

Simply put, this will be a one-stop shop for student athletes who choose to become a part of this new partnership. This group of people actually know what they are doing and not just winging it, which I’ve seen far too many times over the past few months.

“NIL is a game-changer for Tennessee Athletics along with current and future Vol athletes,” said Spyre Co-founder and Vice President of Athlete Marketing James Clawson. “This program dominates the state from the Tri-Cities to Memphis, and our national fanbase is second-to-none. This collective gives those supporters a simple path to get involved and help Tennessee set the standard for NIL success, not just in the SEC, but nationwide”

Spyre Sports Group has executed over 300 deals for Tennessee student athletes in both male and female sports. They have made it clear that they are working with companies across the country and are building an NIL war chest.

In the release that was sent out on Monday, the partners make it clear that they are continuing to rely on the businesses around the state and have already “secured commitments from top donors throughout Tennessee and even nationwide.

“NIL might be new to college sports, but we have managed sponsorship and endorsement opportunities for professional athletes for over a decade,” said Spyre Co-founder and sports agent Hunter Baddour. “We understand the opportunities, but also know the pitfalls. With this knowledge, we’re doing everything in our power to bring the Tennessee family together to deliver meaningful success for our student-athletes. Opendorse has proven to make the athlete’s life easier while making deals more accessible and manageable than ever before.

“We would put our donor base and fan support up against anybody’s,” Baddour added. “Spyre Sports and Opendorse will be the vessel to bring the Tennessee family together and make Knoxville the top NIL destination in college sports. The harsh reality is in this new era of college athletics is that you either rise to the occasion or you become irrelevant. In partnership with Spyre and Opendorse, Vol Nation and Tennessee will rise.”

According to the release, Spyre will also continue educating student athletes on brand awareness, tax preparation, along with other areas that need to be addressed. But, the main component of this partnership is to secure donor commitments and put deals in front of Tennessee student athletes.

We are starting to see a trend across the college football landscape where big donors are coming in and offering athletes a good chunk of money and then leaving it up to them to handle it all. That shouldn’t be the case with Spyre and Opendorse, as it seems they’ve got a plan on how to handle it all with professionals who have been marketing athletes for a very long time.

“The NIL collective model is the new standard for student-athlete support in college sports,” said Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence. “Just like any new market, leaders quickly emerge – and it’s clear that Spyre Sports Group is a leader in this pack. Our companies have worked together to empower athletes at the professional level for nearly a decade, and I’m proud that we can now partner to support college athletes across genders and sports. Tennessee Athletics and its student-athletes are in good hands.”

This is a win-win situation for both groups and Tennessee student athletes, as this will only help further boost Tennessee into the NIL stratosphere.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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