On May 28, 2021, the Texas State Senate approved Bill 1385 by a 28-2 vote. This bill on the name, image, and likeness (NIL) law went into effect on July 1, 2021, making Texas the fourteenth state to pass legislation lifting the restrictions on student athletes’ abilities to make money on their name, image, and likeness.
Student athletes can profit off of their NIL by participating in anything from sponsored social media posts, third-party endorsements, to making personal appearances. However, the Texas NIL law and each individual Texas university have their own specifications and restrictions as to how student athletes can take advantage of their NIL.
According to Bill 1385, students are prohibited from endorsing any alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes or any other type of nicotine delivery device; anabolic steroids; casino gambling or sports wagering; non-legal firearms; or a sexually-oriented business as defined in Section 243.002 Local Government Code. Furthermore, an NIL activity cannot occur during a practice or team activity as defined in the student athlete’s contract with their university program, nor can a student athlete wear any symbols or icons of their university during any endorsement activity.
Student athletes are also required to attend a financial literacy workshop before capitalizing upon their NIL’s, and any NIL contract drawn up must be in-line with the student athlete’s university honor code.
The State of Texas NIL Law is a means of staying competitive in the collegiate sports environment, but the details surrounding the implementation of these changes at a Federal level are still unclear. Bill 1385 speaks to the necessity of a bill passed at the Federal level in order to ensure these state laws are uniformly enforced. Until then, state legislatures set the precedent. Nevertheless, Texas universities are preparing for this legal shift and have developed their own programs to set rules and regulations in place to protect and govern their athletes.
Because of the wide range of specifications for each Texas school, here is a guide for both student athletes looking to connect with an affiliate, as well as businesses looking to endorse student athletes, organized by school.
Barring any potential revenue their student athletes could make, the University of Texas generates the most revenue of any university in the US, making an astounding $223 million in the 2018-19 school year. Considering the amount of profit UT makes off of their brand optics, it follows that they would embrace a bill that would allow their student athletes to profit off of their NILs.
As stated by the bill signed by Governor Abbott, UT schools have to allow student athletes to obtain professional representation. That means athletes are free to sign with agents who may work with brands to secure sponsorship deals for their clients, and companies are also free to strike deals with agents. With an increase in bandwidth for student athletes to take their NILs into their own hands, companies and brands can connect with student athletes in new ways. IconSource is a great example; it is a platform and consulting tool for agents to use to help their student athletes connect with businesses, and for businesses to seek out and contact these agents directly to begin a partnership, no extra steps required.
In August 2020, the University of Texas created LEVERAGE, a program that aims to provide University of Texas athletes with the information and resources they need to maximize their brand and platform. The program covers personal branding and brand management, opportunity management, business formation and entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. LEVERAGE has everything from workshops on building your brand and self-pitching, to social analytics services and personalized graphics.
As influential as sports icons are, it is important for UT athletes to know their worth and the power of their voice before capitalizing on their NIL. LEVERAGE aims to give these students the knowledge they need to make the best decisions about their futures and partnerships. Find yourself asking “how can my company partner with a UT athlete?” Platforms like IconSource seek to make it easy for these athletes to connect directly with businesses in a safe and secure online marketplace.
As Ross Bjork, Director of Athletics at Texas A&M, explained, “[A&M] cannot set up agreements between an athlete and a business. Between an athlete and a booster. Between an athlete and an entity… we can’t arrange anything”. The Texas NIL law changes nothing about the fact that Texas A&M and other universities cannot directly influence or profit off of a student athlete. This leaves a gap in the market for services that can connect brands with potential representatives; a gap which companies like IconSource are filling. IconSource seeks to provide a network of connection to brands and companies that universities legally cannot facilitate; the most A&M and other schools can do is educate.
What is so powerful about the NIL law is that it makes it feasible for smaller businesses to work with lesser-known collegiate athletes instead of only having the option of working with pro players. As a platform that connects businesses and brands with student athletes, IconSource can help you collaborate with Texas A&M athletes to maximize your brand exposure.
A program to assist student athletes in navigating businesses and brands existed before the Texas NIL bill even passed. The groundwork for the A&M program “AMPLIFY” was laid down and ready to go come the July 1st full legalization of NIL endorsements and deals.
AMPLIFY has educational services and resources such as mock interviews, understanding the Aggie Network and Lettermen’s Association, social media audits and analyses, INFLCR best practices, and creating custom content. Texas A&M also has an existing partnership with INFLCR, the leading brand-building platform for student athletes, a newly-created A&M-specific digital and social media group, called “12th Man Creative”, and a relationship with COMPASS, an education and compliance solution developed by the Collegiate Licensing Company, a leading trademark company.
Although specifically potential NIL football deals are in the forefront of everyone’s mind—as this is America— football players aren’t the only student athletes who have the potential to make money off of their NILs. University of Houston’s Kyler Edwards and Marcus Sasser, point guards on the basketball team, have signed with Playermaker and have custom lines of clothing.
If you’re wondering “how can my company partner with a University of Houston athlete?”, look no further. IconSource can help you sponsor University of Houston athletes to maximize your brand exposure and reach your target audiences.
The University of Houston has taken a slightly different approach to their Name, Image, and Likeness program. Dubbed “LIFTOFF”, the educational program is powered by the university’s C.T. Bauer College of Business.
UH provides student athletes with services such as live consultation sessions with industry experts, an on-demand NIL masterclass, and monetization and financial literacy from brands such as Instagram and Twitter.
These university-provided tools are a great start to help student athletes seize their newfound NIL sovereignty. In order to proceed and connect with businesses directly on a safe and secure online platform, athletes should consider utilizing IconSource. We can put you in direct contact with brands that are interested in partnering with you, and you with them.
UNT has a reputation in the debate about student athletes’ ability to earn money. Back in 2014, a lawsuit was filed against the NCAA for banning students from earning money beyond that which consisted of their scholarships. The plaintiff in the lawsuit was the Mean Green quarterback at the time, Derek Thompson. Thompson’s main sentiment was the disparity between the millions of dollars universities and the NCAA were making off of their players, whereas the players themselves were effectively banned from making any money at all.
It took a while but Thompson’s wishes have been granted come the advent of the Texas NIL bill, albeit long after he would be able to capitalize upon it. As per the school’s rules, University of North Texas athletes must disclose the nature of their contracts and partnerships to the university, to be reviewed and approved within five business days, and the bigger contracts have to be further approved by the Vice President or the Director of Athletics.
Despite the restrictions on contracts, businesses should be jumping at the chance to endorse a University of North Texas athlete; Sarah Fuller, a goalie on the UNT women’s soccer team, reportedly has the chance to make $160,000 annually through NIL opportunities. As the first female athlete to participate in a Power Five Football Game, companies and brands could leverage her image and voice into something incredibly powerful and lucrative. Any brand looking to connect with and endorse UNT athletes such as Fuller can do so with ease on a platform like IconSource. With the infrastructure to begin partnerships between companies and UNT athletes, it is a great place to start in the new world of leveraging student athletes’ NILs to help a company reach their audience.
University of North Texas, just like other Texas universities, has developed and debuted its own NIL education and empowerment program for its student athletes. “Paramount” is meant to provide an educational structure on the NCAA and state legislature surrounding NIL, as well as financial courses as mandated by the Texas NIL bill. UNT, like UH, has a partnership with INFLCR and INFLCR Verified available to their student athletes.
One of the offerings UNT and other large Texas universities emphasize is their already-existing and thriving social presences. They present these to student athletes as a kind of springboard or guiding example to nurture their own following and Name, Image, and Likeness who might soon have a bandwidth similar to the schools they attend.
Since universities can only offer assistance in the form of education and lead-by-example, student athletes have to look elsewhere for assistance in connecting with brands and vetting out offers. Here’s where IconSource comes in; as a huge athletic endorsement marketplace, our easy-to-use online platform makes it simple to find brands student athletes want to work with.
Texas Tech Football quarterback Tyler Shough is one of many Texas student athletes who has taken advantage of the new NIL law. Shough added an email for business inquiries to his social media bios right as the law went into effect, and could soon be seen featured on a billboard in Lubbock, TX.
Texas Tech Basketball player Kevin McCullar, Jr. announced his NIL intention on Instagram with the statement “I welcome opportunities to partner with businesses to promote their brands on both a local and national level.” He asked companies to contact him via email if they were interested.
IconSource is the best way to get in direct contact with a Texas Tech University athlete who would be a great partner for your company. If you have a specific athlete in mind, IconSource can help connect you with them. The easiest way to do that is to contact us.
The Texas Tech University NIL program is called “Beyond Verified”, and is described as a “multifaceted Name-Image-Likeness program designed to build and safeguard each student-athlete’s personal brand”. Similarly to all of the other NIL programs, it aims to set student athletes up for success through the state-mandated financial literacy programs and educational services.
In addition to educational programs, TTU recently built a state-of-the-art television studio for student athletes to utilize to further build and monetize their NILs. Further differentiating the TTU NIL program from other Texas universities is their partnership with the College of Media and Communications, and the ability for current athletes to craft and tell their unique stories and personalities to the school’s fan base and alumni. TTU’s intention is to portray the person behind the athlete in order to show that they have more to offer than just their physical prowess on the field or court.
Every Texas Tech athlete deserves to partner with brands that will honor and represent their personal stories. IconSource matches student athletes with brands that will be best-suited for their personal goals. And if there’s a company or product with whom you want to get in contact, IconSource works personally with athletes to formulate the best strategy for execution. Reach out to us today to get started.
Student athletes, universities, and companies should pay close attention to the continuing developments in both the state of Texas NIL law and national laws that may be forthcoming.
Additional legislation will inevitably come up as all parties discern what NIL means for college sports and how businesses and brands can be a part of helping college athletes get paid.
While there remains a variety and inconsistency of laws from state to state, the possibility that Congress may pass federal NIL legislation still exists. If you’re a student athlete or brand wondering what all this might mean for you, talk to Icon Source to stay up-to-date with the latest news and ahead of the latest trends.