DALLAS - A new era of college sports begins this week and Texas student-athletes are on the forefront and in a prime position to benefit. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas NIL bill into law, allowing college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness — known by its abbreviation "NIL" - beginning on July 1. The law allows athletes to make money for anything from promotional appearances to product endorsements, autograph sessions, training sessions, and social media content.
Under the new NIL rules, University of Texas is staking claim as the biggest brand in college football.
"Texas is a land of opportunity, Austin is a thriving, dynamic and energetic city right in the middle of it and the University of Texas is like none other," said UT Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte.
"All those factors, along with the national and worldwide power of the Longhorn brand are among the many things that are key elements in our exciting 'Leverage' program."
For Texas Longhorns athletes who have podcasts, it's an opportunity to be paid for commercials. For athletes who play video games, it's an opportunity to stream their games for pay.
Those State Farm commercials with Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes? Those many, many ads featuring Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott? Those could soon feature your favorite college football player.
Now booking on Cameo, for $100 a video, is Texas sophomore running back Bijan Robinson. Considered a potential Heisman Trophy contender (with +6000 odds by fanduel) has over 83,000 Instagram followers.
The University of Texas announced its AMPLIFY program, in which student-athletes have access to resources and education on personal branding and brand management, business formation entrepreneurship, opportunity management, and financial literacy.
What about the perspective from someone actually living it? How does it feel to be a quarterback in the state of Texas, about to cash in on his NIL, for the first time ever legally allowed in history?
Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough is open for business. On July 1, Shough (pronounced Sh-uck) will add an email to his social media bios for business inquiries and shortly thereafter, could be featured on a billboard in Lubbock.
“For me, the most exciting part is the opportunity to utilize my name and my brand. It’s not really about the money but I am excited to have all of us student-athletes, in general, to be able to benefit from who we are outside of football and all sports," Shough said in an exclusive with Sports Illustrated reporter Bri Amaranthus.
"It feels like now we can be recognized as people and not just athletes in a jersey - We really do have a lot more to offer.”
Shough's NIL has the potential to be highly lucrative, especially as a new face in a state highly dedicated to football. His hype and expectations are high; Fanduel lists Shough as one of the Big 12's top candidates to win the Heisman Trophy. Shough also has 10/1 odds to be drafted No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL draft with three years of eligibility left.
The former Oregon Ducks quarterback is looking to reboot the high-powered Red Raiders attack out of the bottom of the conference ... A job he prioritizes over the opportunity for cashing in his NIL.
“Every day will be a balance,'' he said. "My mindset is use my NIL as a tool that I can take advantage of, outside of football. I’m not going to let NIL interfere with football at all. A lot of work still needs to be done. The potential money to be made is going to come from my work by playing football... Football is what it is about.”
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Texas Tech is providing the 21-year-old Shough (and all student-athletes) a class course this week to help build their personal brands and protect their finances. Beginning Thursday, athletes are allowed to hire marketing agents that represent their interests.
“I haven’t hired an agent and to my knowledge, none of my teammates have," Shough said. "I think it is still kind of early in the process. We don’t want to sign with somebody who may be taking advantage of how early in the process this all is. We don't have the knowledge yet of how far this thing can go.”
The Arizona native has noticed a shift in how much attention his teammates and football players around the nation are paying to their own personal brands. While some are making efforts to get verified on social media, others are acutely monitoring their posts and past posts.
"For me, I’ve always had the same approach. I’ve done everything I can to represent myself and the school as well as I can - so I’m going to keep doing that," Shough said.
While exciting, the uncertainty and unknown can be overwhelming to Shough and other athletes. For example, it is Shough's understanding that there are stipulations in the legislation that if he hires an agent now, that agent/agency cannot represent him, should he continue onto the NFL. So, decisions made now will certainly change his options later.
Also included in the bill are stipulations that athletes be paid “fair market value”. Shough does not have a value for his NIL yet in mind. How do you set a rate in a market that many have termed as the "wild, wild west"?
“I’m not going crazy with it," Shough said. "I look at it like, ‘What can I do in my free time to make money?’"
While the changing landscape is revolutionary, student-athletes' ability to make money off their NIL puts them on the same playing field as every other person in the world... A long-time-coming chance to see what their brand is worth on the open market.
Former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was projected to make just under a million dollars last season, had he been able to profit from his NIL.
The legislation does prohibit athletes from endorsing particular industries such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling or illegal firearms, etc.
In the competitive world of college athletics, any leverage is crucial. Texas Tech, University of Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, University of Houston, SMU ... All are making efforts and programs to position themselves as the leaders in helping athletes make the most of profiting from their NIL - moves that will certainly excite recruits and fuel the local and national appetitive to hire college athletes.
“I think Texas Tech and the state of Texas is at a competitive recruiting advantage for sure because we are ahead of the process on starting to capitalize on NIL,” Shough said. “Because high school, college, and professional football is such a prominent thing in the south and especially Texas, we can have a lot of influence over the community. It’s a great opportunity for us and businesses to collaborate.”