In January, the NCAA is expected to approve changes that will allow Division I athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness (NIL for short) after decades of pushback and punishment where making any kind of revenue while an amateur was college sports’ cardinal sin.
Student-athletes will, as soon as next fall, be able to give paid private lessons, operate clinics, charge for autographs, profit from endorsements, enter deals with agents and crowdfund as long as the college’s name or logo is not mentioned, according to a thorough National Law Review article published last week.
This is going to impact tens of thousands of college-aged kids right away and so many more in the future. For those athletes and schools who may need guidance, youth-focused sports brand Overtime has teamed up with Opendorse— an athlete marketing platform already used by the NHL, Clemson University, the PGA Tour, Pittsburgh Steelers superstar wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and more than 25,000 organizations, schools, teams, players and sponsors— to help prepare for these changes.
Founded in 2012 by two former University of Nebraska football players, Opendorse will use its eight years of experience to provide the resources and social media and marketing tools to help athletes and schools best navigate these unprecedented, long-awaited upcoming changes. Partnering with a company like Overtime, which has a huge reach among high school and college-aged kids, with its viral social and video content geared towards the athletes and their followers, made perfect sense.
The combined effort is called Opendorse Ready, which athletes, schools and teams can apply for, but the service would remain free for college students. Clients would be able to access different marketing tools at various price points and have the option to select an Overtime package. That package includes includes what the companies call athlete-centric content creation with a variety of Overtime created media-capture options like video which could be customized into videos and highlights both for players and teams, interviews and even episodes for a potential athlete or team-focused video series. That content would then be converted using Opendorse’s marketing tools to publish to their personal social media channels.
“This partnership is a natural evolution for both companies as we enter the NIL era,” said Blake Lawrence, Opendorse’s co-founder and CEO. “When student-athletes can bring Overtime-created content to their fans and followers, they will be in a position to build engaged audiences that will soon attract sponsors in the same way media companies like Overtime do today. Our partnership makes it a reality for athletes across the country to maximize, and eventually manage, this endorsement value while helping to position college athletics programs for the future.”
As Opendorse saw the progress Overtime made in reaching teenage athletes and fans, Lawrence reached out to Overtime CEO Dan Porter and president Zack Weiner to discuss how NLI was going to change the college sports landscape and the student-athlete experience in a monumental way.
“By creating a one-two punch of content and tech,” Weiner said, “we will immediately make an impact as we help athletic programs offer up content to help build the social following and personal brands of student-athletes and down the road, be in a position to add athlete monetization to the equation.”
Schools will be able to better market their players using Overtime’s reach and sell more tickets, Weiner and Lawrence said. It’s a big deal for an athlete to be featured on Overtime, Weiner said, which could gain a huge new source of revenue through this Opendorse partnership. And while the NCAA rule change may not kick into gear until 2021 at the earliest, colleges are already trying to persuade high schoolers to choose their team to best monetize their NIL through sponsorships and endorsements.
“This partnership will allow schools to compete in the recruiting race by offering custom Overtime content for its student-athletes and athletic programs,” Weiner said, “empowering the athlete to continue the brand-building process necessary to monetize.”
Lawrence agreed that student-athlete brand building is becoming what he called an arms race for the upcoming NIL era. Every school has its own program and technology plan to get a leg up in recruiting, and Opendorse’s Overtime partnership is something he hopes distinguishes the company from other competitors.
“This takes the player development program to the next level by providing access to the Overtime-created media that athletes love with the one-tap publishing technology thousands already use, all wrapped up in the top NIL readiness program,” Lawrence said. “Schools who adopt this will plant their flag as the program that understands what their current and future student-athletes will want to see from their school.”
While it’s still unknown how truly seismic the NIL changes will be for the NCAA, its schools and its student-athletes if and when various allowances are made next year, Opendorse’s Overtime partnership gives it a major advantage as athletes and teams prepare for an uncharted, uncertain and potentially hugely lucrative future.