A Changing Landscape: Virginia, Other Schools Struggle to Keep Pace as NIL Rapidly Changes Varsity Sports Composition | Sports

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They’ve been sold in major league ballparks for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that they’ve become a familiar sight at Disharoon Park, home of Virginia’s famous baseball team.

The Cavaliers reached the College World Series last year, secured another NCAA Tournament berth this year and had 112,522 home attendances – the most to flock to The Dish since 2016, when 132,308 did. on the heels of the UVa National Championship winning campaign in 2015. .

This spring, many young fans, whether they were running down the hall, soaking up the sun on third base hill or sitting behind home plate, had a favorite player. It was easy to spot the orange No. 3 Teel t-shirts.

Wide receiver Kyle Teel has been a linchpin at the club since joining UVa and has been critical to the Cavaliers’ playoff success in 2021.

“It’s one of the coolest things,” he said of the look in the stands. “I could say it’s kind of like a dream come true, because people have your name and number on their back, so I would say that’s a great feeling to have and I’m very grateful for that. “

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Until this school year, schools did not sell jerseys or t-shirts with an athlete’s name and number. But last July 1, less than a month after a unanimous Supreme Court decision overturned the NCAA’s mainstay of amateurism, the association allowed college athletes to monetize their names, images and likenesses.

Since then, there has been a push behind the scenes at UVa to keep pace with their volunteer Power Five peers in the uncharted and ever-changing NIL landscape.

Indeed, the school is arming itself for the future rather than clinging to the past.

“No disrespect to Ivy League schools,” said former UVa athletics fundraiser Lo Davis. “But if we didn’t exist in that space, then you look at Virginia, especially in your major revenue-generating sports, and you’re going to be an Ivy League-type school.

“When it comes to recruiting and keeping the talent pool of kids that we know here, we were going to be in trouble if we didn’t have anything to offer NIL.”

Davis is the executive director of Cavalier Futures, one of many collectives to pop up in college towns across America over the past year. These start-ups were created to broker NIL opportunities for athletes who progress to the nearest university.

Collectives aren’t officially affiliated with schools, but Power Five athletic departments without access to their athletes are lagging behind.

Former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer leads 1Oklahoma, while Nike co-founder Phil Knight and other Oregon boosters have formed a collective they call Division Street.

More relevant to the Cavaliers, 10 other members of the Atlantic Coast Conference – Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest – have at least one collective at the service of their athletes.

“We’re obviously very creative people in college athletics,” said Virginia athletic director Carla Williams, who is part of the NCAA’s NIL Legislation Solutions Group. “I don’t think anyone could have predicted the terminology [of collectives] and exactly how things would have gone, but that’s not shocking. We are ultra-competitive and want to find ways to compete at a high level.

Collective accessibility is only part of UVa’s acceleration to provide its athletes with avenues in which players can capitalize on their NIL.

In May, UVa and The Brandr Group announced a group licensing agreement for athletes from all 27 school-sponsored sports. The collaboration between the two parties enables the use of athletes’ LINs in licensing and marketing programs, co-branded with UVa logos and marks.

The most well-known products for including both athlete names and school logos are jerseys, jersey t-shirts, and other clothing items.

Additionally, Charlottesville-based Hook Sports Marketing acts as an agency for client athletes to secure deals through sponsorships, appearances, camps and clinics, promotions and co-branded licensing. . Teel, on behalf of Boras Marketing, is represented by Hook Sports Marketing.

Other clients include basketball players Kihei Clark, Reece Beekman and Jayden Gardner as well as football linebacker Nick Jackson.

Williams said football coach Tony Elliott and men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett “are on the front line of NIL,” and at the same time she understands the work of all of her coaches when it comes to the complexities of NIL.

“Where we ended up and how certain things are going,” Bennett said, “I don’t think everyone is comfortable with it. That’s what you hope you can sort out.

On May 9, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors issued “Advice to Schools Regarding the Intersection” of NIL and recruiting. The board basically reminded everyone that long-standing NCAA rules prohibit boosters from participating in recruiting and said collectives could be defined as boosters.

The tips came shortly after Pitt’s Jordan Addison, winner of the 2021 Biletnikoff Award as college football’s top receiver, abruptly entered the transfer portal. Reports from ESPN and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette surfaced that Addison was offered a mega-NIL deal from Southern California, and three weeks later went on to commit to the USC.

“I don’t know if that’s going to help,” Williams said of the NCAA edict. “But I think it was necessary because it’s just a reiteration of the existing rules, and the rules are there for a reason, and the recall had to happen.”

What few, if any, believe is that the NCAA can enforce the NIL guidelines without federal legislation to supersede the more than 30 state NIL laws.

“It is right to question [enforcement] process,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s fair to question law enforcement officials because we’ve made their lives incredibly difficult. There wouldn’t be a need if people didn’t break the rules. This causes problems, which causes delays. Could the process be better? Yes. Do people [in enforcement] trying to work in the system we gave them? Yes. Do we take care of them? Yes.”

Elliott sees both sides of the NIL dilemma.

“I am a fan and a supporter of NIL,” he said. “I think it’s great that young men have the ability to monetize their name and image and likeness. I remember when I was in college, man, you couldn’t even get a free drink at someone or you’ll get in trouble.

“So I think there’s a lot of good in the rule. Where I struggle a bit is just a lack of oversight, a lack of structure, and how quickly the landscape changes. It came out last year and it’s already almost made a 180 in a year. … If not handled well, it could really have a negative impact on young people. And so, for us at the University of Virginia, what we want is for NIL to be consistent with the values ​​and ideals of the university.

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