NIL Newsletter #100 | Jaden Rashada, NLRB, OSU's Gene Smith, Dayton's Neil Sullivan + ICYMI Ticker & SPECIAL THANK YOU
Welcome to the NIL Newsletter by Optimum Sports Consulting - providing valuable, actionable NIL resources for student athletes, administrators, agents and other sport professionals.
Recapping NIL This Week:
QB Jaden Rashada is linked to a potential $9.5M NIL contract with Miami
Jeremy Crabtree of On3 is reporting the 4-star prospect and No. 7 quarterback in the class of 2023, per 247Sports' composite rankings, agreed to a $9.5 million NIL deal with Miami booster John Ruiz and also turned down an $11 million offer from Florida's Gator Collective.
Miami booster John Ruiz immediately denounced the report on Twitter: “The report by On3.com is inaccurate as it relates to Jaden Rashada. I have never spoken to Mr. Caspino about Jaden Rashada. Mr. Caspino and I spoke about an unrelated player months ago and had a very professional and pleasant conversation. I respect him.”
Caspino replied on Twitter as well: “Mr. Ruiz is correct. I have never ever, spoken to him about Jaden Rashada. In fact, 90% of our discussions have been about our amazing kids. We both share something in common, we are deeply proud of our adult children.”
Caspino said Florida’s collective didn’t help the Gator’s chances during the run-up to Rashada’s decision. “Florida is the most dysfunctional collective in all of college football,” Caspino said. “I plan on steering my clients away from them. From my standpoint, I never ever want to deal with them again. If it weren’t for the collective that’s completely dysfunctional at Florida, he probably would have been there.”
The Gator Collective released a statement on Twitter late Sunday night on Caspino’s comments: “The recent comments by California lawyer Michael Caspino have been brought to our attention,” the statement read. “Gator Collective has never had any communications with Mr. Caspino about Jaden Rashada or any recruits. Rather, Gator Collective has refused to engage in any dialogue with Mr. Caspino on numerous occasions as Gator Collective does not approve of his tactics and has no interest in engaging in activities which violate Florida law and NCAA Interim Policy and may put athletes’ eligibility at risk.”
NLRB is waiting for student athletes to file unfair labor practices
Nine months after National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo released a memo targeting the NCAA, there is scarce outward evidence of impending change in the employment status of college athletes. Not a single current collegiate athlete has done so much as file an unfair labor practices charge—a process that requires little more than a computer and an hour of free time. No attorney or representative is needed.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised,” Abruzzo told Sportico in an interview last week. “It was never my goal to have people file charges. But, you know, charges can be filed by anybody. They don’t need to be filed by current college players.” Although college athletes have actively promoted #NotNCAAProperty and other public campaigns advocating for their economic and legal rights, Abruzzo speculated that, as with other categories of workers, they might fear retaliation if their names were to appear in a formal unionizing effort.
Abruzzo acknowledged the long gauntlet for establishing athletes’ employee rights under the NLRA and said there are more expeditious ways to get players paid. “I think that likely the quickest would be legislation—federal legislation,” she said. “We’ve got a limited universe in our world of cases that we can bring forward. And then, each one will likely be fact-specific in terms of the control or right to control that universities or divisions or the NCAA has. And then the board has to either agree or disagree. And if the board agrees with me, there could be an appeal, and then it would get to the courts. And then another problem with the courts is you could bring cases in various courts, and then there could be a split in the circuits.”
Last November, six weeks after Abruzzo’s memo was released, Michael Hsu - a former regent at the University of Minnesota who has taken up college-athlete rights as a personal cause -filed the first responsive NLRB charge seeking to establish college athlete employment rights. After filing his charge and sitting for several hours of interviews at an NLRB regional office, Hsu says he was asked to provide a list of college athletes who could be interviewed as part of the agency’s investigation. Two weeks later, he submitted 20 names of current and former college athletes; Hsu says he has not heard whether any of them had been interviewed. His efforts to determine the status his charge have failed to produce any updates since Christmas.
Abruzzo speculates that President Biden is likely supportive.
“The President himself,” she opined, “is a tremendously great pro-worker President, and he’s been very public about that. So, I presume that, without knowing . . . he shares my positions with regard to the fact that our statute needs to be broadly construed that the definition of employees should be broadly construed.”
Ohio State AD Gene Smith says schools can help with NIL regulation
With the one-year anniversary of NIL coming up on Friday, OSU AD Gene Smith has a key suggestion: It might be time to allow schools to become involved with helping athletes arrange NIL deals. “NIL is working largely in a whole lot of places,” Smith told CBS Sports.
“Of course, no one writes about those. Everybody's reporting on the plane crashing. I understand that, but the reality is we need to come up with a strategy to deal with inducements. One of those [solutions] might be institutions having more involvement. That's being discussed, and it needs to be continued to be discussed.”
Criticizing the unregulated marketplace, Smith and Ohio State football coach Ryan Day recently told Columbus, Ohio, business leaders it would take $13 million to keep the Buckeyes roster intact in this NIL era. “That's another reason why it should be beneficial for schools to have engagement,” Smith said.
Smith served as co-chair - alongside Big East commissioner Val Ackerman - of a working group that labored for two years while trying to form NIL policy. Members of that working group expressed to CBS Sports that their extensive recommendations were largely ignored by the NCAA when NIL laws went into effect on July 1, 2021. “That was originally discussed by the original working group that Val and I chaired. We walked away from that but maybe now with the lessons we learned from the last year, schools need to have more involvement.”
“We have some student athletes who are doing exceptionally well, seven-figure deals,” Smith said. “We have Olympic sports student athletes with major six-figure deals. That doesn't dishearten me. It's a matter of how you make it happen. … Student athletes are creative if you let them be.”
Dayton AD Neil Sullivan releases NIL update
In what might be an NIL first, Dayton Flyers VP/Director Of Athletics Neil Sullivan gave an NIL update in a style similar to that of a state of the union. Below are some highlights from the announcement:
“Despite the chaos in the market, we see opportunity in the disruption. Our student athletes have earned legitimate income, with authentic work and appearance fees. We have never asked or encouraged, directly or indirectly, any third party to be involved in the recruiting process. Boosters, fans and NIL agents have not been asked to communicate (e.g., call, text, direct message) with a recruit, their family or others affiliated with a prospect. The NIL deals have been legitimate and for work performed. International student athletes remain limited in their ability to receive certain forms of NIL compensation by the terms of their visas and immigration status, but the international space continues to evolve.”
“Please make no mistake, NIL is now one of the primary influences in the recruiting and retention process. Current and future players are observing how our community supports NIL, just as they evaluate our coaching, facilities, fan support, academic excellence, graduation rates, and overall quality of campus life. NIL is now an important part of the Dayton athletic experience.”
Sullivan even “recommended” an agent for student athletes: “For many, it may be easier to engage with a firm that can help in securing and negotiating terms related to name, image and likeness activities. The most active individual locally is Matt Farrell, local business executive (email@example.com). Matt not only has a personal relationship with many of our athletes, but he also understands the NIL landscape, and, having been a former men's basketball staff member and a member of my athletic department staff, he knows our program.”
UConn WBB star Paige Bueckers on if she’d stay for a 5th year because of her track record with NIL: “I know for sure I want to get my degrees. Staying four years is definitely what I want to do. But yeah, I’m not really sure about the fifth year yet, but I’m sure that’ll be a conversation when the time comes around.” Full story from The Athletic HERE.
Former LSU Football HC Ed Orgeron: “They don’t care about it but I will say it anyway: They have to govern it. There’s got to be something, and I think the players would appreciate it. The players that get way too much money in the beginning may not be as hungry, and maybe not in the end get all that he needs to get. So, I think the players will learn to appreciate it, that you’ve got to earn things. I’m not against them getting money, but I think there needs to be some kind of governing.” More from Sports Illustrated HERE.
A group of East Carolina University fans have launched the Team Boneyard NIL collective. In a press release sent Tuesday, Team Boneyard said 100 percent of its contributions, which the group will collect via credit card payment at teamboneyard.org, PayPal and Venmo, will go to East Carolina athletes for NIL activities. Team Boneyard’s press release said it’s not affiliated with ECU.
Texas Football has become the latest to join the growing list of player-driven collectives in the NIL space. The Austin NIL Club launched Wednesday afternoon with a press release tweeted out by several players, including tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders and defensive back D’Shawn Jamison. More HERE.
Cincinnati Bengals RB Trayveon Williams has a new side gig: an adjunct NIL professor at Texas A&M School of Law. He'll co-teach a course with Alex Sinatra, a sports attorney and sports business consultant, starting in the Spring of 2023. More HERE.
Tom McMillen, president and CEO of the LEAD1 Association, which represents the athletics directors of the 130 members of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), has a new op-ed for Sportico where he argues athletic departments should take the lead on NIL. Full op-ed HERE.
New story from ESPN on the latest NIL initiatives to help benefit student athletes at UConn. Full story HERE.
The University of South Carolina, in partnership with INFLCR, has launched Gamecock Exchange. Full press release HERE.
One last thing…
In honor of our 100th NIL Newsletter coming out just hours before NIL officially turns a year old, we wanted to thank all of you, the 7,000+ readers, who continue to engage with our newsletters every Monday and Thursday. We know that NIL is a very difficult space to navigate, and at the very least we hope our newsletters help in some capacity- whether its advising your agency/compliance department/locker room or just simply keeping you updated on the latest news.
As always, we love hearing from YOU on how to make the newsletter better! Shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reach out to us on Twitter, Instagram and/or LinkedIn. Cheers to 100! 🥂