The ever-changing landscape of Name, Image and Likeness has once again taken the next step in the state of Tennessee. On Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee signed a law which clearly delineates which actions companies, coaches, and school officials can now take when handling NIL opportunities. This will give “collectives” the chance to start communicating directly with coaches in regards to NIL.
Over the past year, collective groups that can arrange NIL opportunities for student-athletes have formed around various college campuses across Tennessee, but until now, these groups have not been allowed to have any type of contact with head coaches regarding potential NIL deals for current or future players. Now, the collectives are allowed to make contact and even bring coaches up to date on every single deal that might be made.
Schools have also kept their distance from the NIL process over the last year, but that will soon change in a big way as well. At the University of Tennessee, coaches in all sports can be directly involved with all NIL deals that happen for student-athletes. They can interact in meetings and talk to collectives about potential recruits or current athletes. The football account can even retweet a player’s new deal.
I expect Tennessee and other schools to come up with guidelines about how this will be handled on a broad scope, not just case by case. There are just too many problems that could arise, such as a player signing with a particular coffee company while the athletic department is signed with another. Clearly defined rules and regulations need to be established to prevent such conflicts of interest.
There are so many different scenarios for the schools to go over, but one thing is certain, the lives of those working at collective companies have just become that much easier. I reached out to one such company, Spyre Sports, for comment on the matter.
“This is a game changer for Tennessee Athletics,” said co-founder Hunter Baddour. “Coach Heupel recently said, ‘We want Tennessee to be the most aggressive team in the country.’ We want to match Coach and be the most aggressive NIL collective in the country as well.”
Spyre Sports has been at the forefront of all things NIL for Tennessee athletes. The group has been able to secure deals for current athletes in so many different sports besides just football or basketball. Their goal was to have a $25 million war chest to use annually for deals involving Tennessee student-athletes. They are still working towards that goal, they’ve most certainly been at the top of the list of collectives around the country.
Spyre makes the NIL process less complicated. They can bring in a coach for an event series or have him fundraise for the overall collective, which will likely be a massive help for raising the overall monetary total. Spyre also has the ability to educate student-athletes on what’s going on in the marketplace.
Having a direct line between sponsors, coaches, schools and athletes, without it breaking any rules, is the key to all of this going forward. Other states have taken this measure and enacted laws just like the one in Tennessee. No doubt others will soon try to get on the same page too.