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Braden Davis, left-handed pitcher for the OU Sooners baseball team, plays with a kitten at an Oklahoma Humane Society partnership event. (Photography Carolyn Ta

Featured Article

The Sooner Collective

New Organization Showcasing OU’s Student-Athletes & Supporting the Community

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We regret to inform our readers that Megan Ellis, who was interviewed for this
article, passed away on Dec. 10. While the perspectives shared in this piece remain relevant, we
acknowledge the profound loss of Ms. Ellis’ passing, and we extend our deepest condolences to
her family, friends and TSNC colleagues.]

The Sooner Nation Collective’s primary focus is to be a trusted partner to the more than 600 student-athletes at the University of Oklahoma, and to create opportunities to help them expand their impact outside of the sports arena.

Megan Ellis, TSNC’s executive director, and Pattye Moore, TSNC’s board president, explained that the new program fills a need in the OU community by creating a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) program to benefit OU student-athletes. As an independent, not-for-profit corporation, TSNC’s focus is to work with all student-athletes from all sports teams at the University of Oklahoma.

“We have heard lots of stories where promises have been made and then broken to student athletes,” Moore explained. “We know our student-athletes have worked so hard to get where they are, and we want to make sure they make the most of the opportunities available to them.”

TSNC’s mission is to prepare OU student-athletes for a lifelong commitment to service as part of their personal brand. This mission supports OU's commitment to preparing student-athletes for life after graduation, whether as professional athletes or professionals outside of athletics competition.

“TSNC is a way for groups of donors to come together to support all student athletes on all teams,” Ellis said. “When you have young people who are so devoted to their sport who are also juggling academic responsibilities, we can create unique work opportunities that allow students to make money while continuing to do what they love.”

Of the more than 600 student athletes at OU, only a small percentage attend on full scholarships—signifying that the need for TSNC is profound. The majority of student-athletes receive partial scholarships, and still have to pay for tuition, rent, bills and books. TSNC creates opportunities that allow them to use their NIL to support trusted nonprofits, and allow the athlete to earn money while making a difference in the community.

Once a contribution has been made in support of a particular sporting team, TSNC begins creating NIL opportunities that will allow student athletes to work hand-in-hand with local charitable partners. The charity receives all support and promotion at no cost, and the athlete is paid as a contract employee in exchange for the publicity and awareness that they provide. 

“This way, our student-athletes don’t have to choose between making money and doing good,” Ellis added. “It also allows us to guide them through this business opportunity. We are there to help the athlete learn about signing contracts, managing funds, speaking in public, conducting themselves as professionals, boosting their brand on social media, and how to work with nonprofits. We hope that they fall in love with giving back to the community.”

Currently, TSNC connects athletes to such trusted nonprofits as the Oklahoma Humane Society, Wings Special Needs Community and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

“It has been so incredible to see how well our nonprofit partners and student-athletes work together,” Ellis explained. “It is rewarding to watch these athletes be the best ambassadors that they can be, and support charities that are literally improving and saving lives, right here in Oklahoma. As we grow, we will continue to keep the athletes right in the center of our focus. We look forward to finding ways to support all teams and all athletes at the University of Oklahoma. They all matter, and we want every athlete to be part of this great work.”

While the TSNC’s work is just beginning, they are already seeing the benefits of their work and hints of even more NIL partnerships that are already in the pipeline.

“We hope that, at the end of the day, we can place student athletes with nonprofits in a way that is mutually beneficial. We look at how we can combine their passions with the organizations that are doing good in the community,” Moore concluded.

For more information on collaborating with The Sooner Nation Collective, visit

  • Braden Davis, left-handed pitcher for the OU Sooners baseball team, plays with a kitten at an Oklahoma Humane Society partnership event. (Photography Carolyn Ta
  • TSNC Executive Director Megan Ellis (Photography by Weston Waugh)
  • OU Women's Basketball team at a Halloween-themed Wings Special Needs Community partnership event (Photography by Phinina Corey)

“TSNC is a way for groups of donors to come together to support all student-athletes on all teams."