Though the NCAA – and for that matter, the federal government – hasn’t nailed down the topic of Name, Imagine and Likeness for college athletes, Oklahoma State announced Tuesday that the athletic department is getting a jumpstart so when legislation eventually goes into affect that its athletes will be prepared to capitalize.
OSU entered a five-year branding partnership with INFLCR that “will empower OSU student-athletes on social media and bring the Cowboys and Cowgirls to the forefront of Name, Image and Likeness solutions.”
And while the likelihood of athletes being able to monetize their own brand is at least a year out, some Oklahoma State football players – including some who will be graduated by then – are already brainstorming ideas.
Redshirt junior safety Tre Sterling took to social media to already campaign for a local business to pair with when NIL allowed: “I’m available (Eskimo Joe’s)” Sterling’s tweet read.
“I’m trying to get Eskimo Joe’s on board,” Sterling said. “They haven’t replied yet, they haven’t DM’ed me, but it’ll happen soon.”
Some of the deadlock on the issue at the national level is the potential of athletes – or more so fans, donors or businesses – abusing NIL, with excessive income for the athletes. But Sterling doesn’t see it as a means to an end type of venture.
“It may help me pay rent,” Sterling said. “So, just so many good ideas and stuff like that, and just how our images around campus, how people see us.”
Sterling has also been using a different skill beside football to draw an audience on his social media platforms.
He has begun graphic design work – creating a secondary Twitter account where he describes himself as a “Graphic Design Amateur” – and sharing the products he is creating on the computer.
“I’m just a really creative person,” Sterling said. “I see an image in my head and try to jot something down, and while I’m jotting it down, I’ll switch it up and stuff like that. But before this summer, I’ve never really just shown that to people and stuff like that.”
Redshirt senior cornerback Rodarius Williams won’t benefit from NIL at the college level – though he's hoping to make it to the professional level, where he could work to market himself financially – he is already envisioning how athletes could utilize the deal OSU announced Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of players on this team who have fashion ideas or random sales in certain ways,” Williams said. “So I feel like it’s a great opportunity for not only me but the entire team, because there’s a lot of guys on this team that got great ideas and great marketing attributes to their names. So, I feel like it would be a great access to our team.”
Though there is already a lot of interest and intrigue for skilled position players, both as potential brand ambassadors or social media influencers, some athletes aren’t thinking about such things.
Offensive lineman Hunter Anthony, who is hoping to be part of the starting lineup to propel running back Chuba Hubbard to another year in which he was an international face of college football, isn’t too into the idea right now of taking advantage of an NIL.
“I don’t know, I’m just here to play,” Anthony said Tuesday. “I’m not sure about all that. We’ll learn more about it whenever it comes in effect, I guess.
“I am (interested), but right now we can’t really do any of that stuff, so it’s not important to me right now. The season is important, and I’m just trying to be the best player I can to help this team.”