NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One year ago this month, name, image and likeness (NIL) completely changed the landscape of college athletics.
With players now able to benefit financially from NIL, organizations began to pop up to help represent the player and broker deals with businesses. It may sound simple, but this new-look for college sports has proven to be anything but.
“It is the Wild Wild West and I think a mistake is being resistant to it,” said Partner/Agent with Spyre Sports Group Hunter Baddour.
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The University of Tennessee alum helped create Spyre Sports, which many refer to as a “collective.”
“So we really don’t like the term collective,” corrected Baddour. “Someone coined that phrase. We are a sports marketing agency and we’ve represented players from every single SEC school and all power five conferences. But, given that I’m a Tennessee graduate as well as my business partner, it only made sense to pivot and focus in on NIL to support the University of Tennessee.”
The group has done monetary deals for 126 student-athletes at Tennessee, worth upwards of $3.8 million in total. They had the foresight to start planning for an eventual world dominated by NIL, but even they didn’t anticipate how fast it would all happen.
“I think it’s so new that it startled a lot of people. I would argue that it’s a course correction so to speak that was long overdue, but I think it’s such a drastic change that it has taken some getting used to.”
Spyre connects businesses with the players who are then able to service the fans through events and meet and greets. Outside of that, Baddour also says they aim to educate fans and businesses about NIL to ensure everyone understands how they remain compliant under often-confusing rules and regulations.
“If you want to be competitive in the space, you have to have a strong NIL program. And, the school that figures out how to really tap into the fan base is the school that’s going to separate themselves from the competition. As far as Tennessee is concerned, there’s a power in numbers and Vols Nation is everywhere.”
So is NIL.
Rumors of multi-million dollar deals and recruiting inducements have dominated the headlines, but Spyre isn’t going to stand around and wait for things to calm.
“In hindsight, I think we all should have seen this coming,” said Baddour. “This is a multi-billion dollar industry and looking back, it was obvious that it was going to get to this point. “It’s not going away. It’s here to stay. You either embrace it or you get left behind.”
Spyre Sports Group has completely embraced it. On3 named them the most ambitious NIL college collective.
“I know it’s catching a lot of people off guard, but college football is going to be completely fine.”