Florida State University (FSU) soccer, who won the NCAA championship in 2021, inked a first-of-its-kind Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) endorsement that would provide players with royalty payments on commemorative merchandise sold online. A small percentage of royalty dues would typically get kicked back to the NCAA, but the overhead body opted to waive its share, opening the door for the NIL agreement.
The deal was brokered by Rising Spear, a business entity that operates separately from FSU, in accordance with NCAA regulation. Per their website, Rising Spear “empowers Florida State student-athletes with the resources and roadmap to maximize their brand value.” The NIL collective was founded by Alan Flaumenhaft and Bob Davis, the latter a retired CPA and former National Chairman for Seminole Boosters, the fundraising arm of FSU athletics.
“Rising Spear is a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) organization that was formed to benefit student-athletes,” says Davis on LinkedIn. “It has two platforms: Gold Standard will be the normal NIL organization that will assist student-athletes to be able to engage in endorsements, appearances, and social media type jobs. The second platform is Garnet Spirit, which is a non-profit organization that will arrange for student-athletes to do speaking engagements and coaching clinics for other non-profit organizations in their community.”
Because of the aforementioned NCAA regulations, the championship apparel is unable to be sold on FSU’s campus or bookstore but is able to be sold independently through online retail services and outlets.
The apparel features silhouettes of the players from the winning moment in the championship game with a specially made FSU championship logo produced by CLC, the school’s licensing agent. The Seminoles had to approve the use of its mark and the championship logo that appears on the apparel, according to Sports Business Journal.
NIL endorsements are relatively new in the world of college athletics, only becoming enacted as a part of the NCAA legislature in 2021. The state of Florida was one of the first to ratify the law as state policy in 2019, opening the door for other states to follow suit. NCAA NIL rules went into effect on Jul. 1 of last year, permitting student-athletes to start signing NIL deals, beginning to profit on their name, image, and likeness.
As NIL endorsements become increasingly lucrative to athletes, the federal government, as well as certain states, have looked into ways to further regulate how money is used to persuade athletes to attend one school over another.
Last October FSU senior basketball guard Wyatt Wilkes became the first active NCAA men’s basketball player to sell “non-fungible token” (NFT) of digital trading cards using his name and image.
NFTs, “one-of-a-kind” digital assets that can be bought and sold like physical property, are unique assets and artwork that are represented by code on a decentralized digital ledger called a blockchain. As with crypto-currency, the blockchain allows for the ownership and validity of each to be tracked.