Hanging out in State College after the Penn State-Villanova game Saturday? If so, you can tailgate with quarterback Sean Clifford and receiver Jahan Dotson, thanks to Pennsylvania's name, image and likeness legislation.
Clifford and Dotson will appear at a postgame tailgate at Medlar Field, the baseball venue across the street from Beaver Stadium. Tickets are $40 for adults ($20 for kids) and include food, a Q&A session and autograph and photo opportunities. A cash bar will be available.
"Experience this first-of-its-kind event in the new era of college football," the tailgate's Eventbrite notice says.
This is a unique example of NIL in action at Penn State, where many athletes have pursued endorsement and business opportunities since Pennsylvania's NIL legislation went into effect July 1. The event was cleared by Penn State's athletics department, which established the STATEment program this summer to help athletes find deals and become entrepreneurs.
In addition, the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County and the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau have launched Happy Valley Talent, a venture to help pair athletes with local businesses.
Clifford is among the busiest football players regarding NIL, having spent July forming a team to handle inquiries, pursue partnerships and run his social media. Clifford has endorsement deals with several State College businesses (including McLanahan's and The Field), built a fitness application with brother Liam, is starting a clothing line and does personal appearances via the digital platform Cameo.
Clifford is donating proceeds from his Cameo appearances to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
"When the NIL began, I knew that it would be a great opportunity for myself and the community and the guys around me, my teammates, to get your name out there and use your platform to the best of your ability, because obviously, we haven't been able to do that in the past," Clifford said. "I set up a pretty good team of people around me, and we worked pretty hard during the month of July leading up to [training] camp and into the season."
Clifford added that he hopes to establish an NIL path for current and future Penn State athletes.
"I would say I helped myself and my teammates around me with how I've gone about my business," he said. "That's one of the things I wanted to focus on, is kind of create a starting point for Penn Staters and soon-to-be Penn State athletes, so that way I could maybe be a role model for guys in the future with NIL.
"So when you get to college, how do you go about looking for deals? But at the same time, a lot of it is going to be during the season, so how do you balance it with football, because obviously football needs to be the No. 1 priority, and then everything else needs to fall in behind it. And I feel like I've done a pretty good job of balancing everything and having a team behind me that helps with that."
Trevor Robinson, a 2021 Penn State graduate, is part of the team that organizes Clifford's NIL platform. If Saturday's tailgate is successful, Robinson said he hopes to schedule more.
"This is one way to give back and connect with people after the games," Robinson said. "[Clifford] hasn't been able to do many public appearances, so doing this is a pretty cool way for people to meet him and Jahan. They both wanted to do something where they could meet the fans."