NIL, Collectives and What it Means for College Sports

The landscape of college football has undergone a seismic shift in recent years, driven by two forces: Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) legislation and the rise of collectives. These two intertwined elements have fundamentally altered the way student-athletes are recruited and compensated.

In July 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that college athletes could profit from their NIL, a right long held by ordinary citizens. This decision allowed athletes, not just the NCAA and Universities, to finally capitalize on their athletic talents and brand.

Enter the collectives:

As NIL took hold, a new idea emerged: collectives. These independent, donor supported organizations connect athletes with NIL opportunities. Collectives have become vital in the recruiting efforts. NIL and collectives have dramatically changed the landscape. Top programs now leverage collectives to lure recruits.

On3.com put together a list of the most amitious collectives. Guess who came in at number 10?

On3’s Top 20 most ambitious NIL collectives:

  1. Spyre Sports Group (Tennessee)
  2. 12th Man+ Fund (Texas A&M)
  3. Division St. (Oregon)
  4. Texas One Fund (Texas)
  5. John Ruiz/Canes Connection (Miami)
  6. The Battleā€™s End (Florida State)
  7. House of Victory (USC)
  8. OneArkansas NIL (Arkansas)
  9. The Grove Collective (Ole Miss)
  10. Country Roads Trust (West Virginia)
  11. Matador Club (Texas Tech)
  12. On To Victory (Auburn)
  13. Valiant/Champions Circle (Michigan)
  14. Classic City (Georgia)
  15. Montlake Futures (Washington)
  16. Garnet Trust (South Carolina)
  17. Crimson and Cream (Oklahoma)
  18.  Mass St. (Kansas)
  19. The 1890 Initiative (Nebraska) 
  20. Boulevard Collective (SMU)

Country Roads Trust:

WVU alumni and owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ken Kendrick, and Oliver Luck, former WVU quarterback, NCAA and NFL executive, announced the formation of Country Roads Trust LLC, an independent company set up to obtain contributions to create NIL opportunities for Mountaineer student-athletes. Country Roads Trust is an exclusive member-driven marketplace that connects West Virginia University (WVU) fans with the program and players like never before through Name, Image, & Likeness (NIL) opportunities. It is also a fan club that allows athletes to earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness.

100% of the proceeds go to athletes. As of today, 1,130 people have become members of Country Roads Trust.

Here are the players on the football team that have committed to the trust for 2024 so far:

  • WR Traylon Ray (12/6/23)
  • TE Kole Taylor (12/6/23)
  • OL Wyatt Milum (12/5/23)
  • OL Tomas Rimac (12/5/23)
  • OL Brandon Yates (12/4/23)
  • LB Josiah Trotter (12/4/23)
  • WR Preston Fox (12/4/23)

Benefits of Membership:

  • Exclusive access to NIL experiences: Members can participate in exclusive events and activities with WVU athletes.
  • Direct connection with athletes: Members can interact with their favorite WVU athletes through social media and other channels.
  • Support for WVU athletics: Members contribute directly to the financial success of WVU athletics.
  • Discounts and merchandise: Members receive discounts on tickets, merchandise, and other WVU-related products and services.

How to Join:

To become a member of Country Roads Trust, you can visit their website and sign up for a membership plan. There are different membership tiers available, each with its own set of benefits.

Store:

The Country Roads Trust store offers a variety of WVU-branded merchandise, including apparel, hats, and accessories. You can also purchase autographed memorabilia and other unique items.

Country Roads Trust announced back in July an innovative, leading-edge licensing agreement with Big Timber Brewing Company to produce and sell a co-branded lager beer. Country Roads Lager gives 15% of all beer sales to the Country Roads Trust. The beer is also for sale inside the stadium.

Additional Information:

Website: https://countryroadstrust.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CountryRoads2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CountryRoadsTrust/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/countryroadstrust/?hl=en

Some additional facts:

  • Founded in 2021
  • Over 1,100 members
  • Has facilitated over $1 million in NIL deals for WVU athletes
  • Featured in Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and other major media outlets

The NIL landscape is still evolving and uncertainties remain. Issues such as booster involvement, compliance, and the potential for exploitation of athletes need to be addressed. The NCAA and other governing bodies are working to establish regulatory frameworks, but much remains to be seen.

Despite the challenges, there’s no doubt that NIL and collectives have ushered in a new era for college football. The days of strict amateurism are over, replaced by a more market-driven system. The question remains; Will this collective help WVU stay competitive or fall behind? Right now, signs are pointing up, but time will tell.

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