On July 1, 2021, Texas became the fourteenth state to lift restrictions on student-athletes receiving compensation for the use of their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). This legislation came after a Supreme Court ruling that the NCAA did not have the power to remove "educational compensation" from players receiving NIL payments, including scholarships.
The NCAA is currently working with Congress on a federal NIL policy, but until then, each state has the right to make its own NIL laws. Although 29 states now have NIL legislation, players in states without NIL laws can take advantage of the NCAA's Interim Policy. This policy states that students' ability to compete in intercollegiate sports is unaffected by their decision to participate in NIL partnerships.
Although the universities do not broker the deals for the players, they are accountable for figuring out whether or not their actions comply with state law. Texas law prohibits a player from entering into an endorsement with any business selling alcohol, tobacco, gambling services, and several others.
In response to these changing policies, college alums all over the country are forming collectives, organizations that facilitate NIL deals with their school's student-athletes. The collective will work with local and national businesses, linking them with players that can market their business' products and services.
Enter LinkingCoogs, the collective for the University of Houston's student-athletes. Founded by UH alum Austin Elrod and Troy Kyle, this organization provides opportunities many students never thought possible.
Although most college athletes are on scholarships and do not have to worry about tuition, meals, and room and board, many come from underprivileged families who cannot offer their children any additional spending money.
"I've had multiple athletes cry over the phone asking 'what? me?' Just a couple thousand dollars is changing these kids' lives," says Sales Development Director, Landon Goesling.
Most of the NIL deals are not million-dollar endorsements. The majority of the partnerships are small local businesses looking to expand their market presence by partnering with a popular local athlete.
For example, LinkingCoogs has already placed many athletes in partnerships with Houston-based companies, including Hogue Landscaping, Fritz Kennel, Suitmart, Inaka Power, and many others.
Houston staple BB's Tex-Orleans, has partnered with the entire University of Houston basketball team. BB's owner, Brooks Bassler, is thrilled with the partnership.
"It's a real treat to have such high-quality young men representing our brand," says Bassler. "This team is the epitome of respectful, hard-working, well-mannered, and just all-around class acts. They are winners on and off the court, and we are excited to partner with them."
Partnerships are not limited to big names in basketball and football. Any athlete is eligible for NIL deals, including volleyball players, tennis players, and golfers.
"A large percentage of players do not go on to play professionally, so these endorsement deals will help them in the future," says Goesling. "This is an opportunity for real-world experience working with business owners."
Goesling encourages all Cougar fans to jump into the space and support their team!
To learn more about Linking Coogs, visit thelinku.com or email Landon Goesling directly at firstname.lastname@example.org