The Branding Impact of N-I-L


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Solving for B°
The Branding Impact of N-I-L

Over the past few years, there have been an increase in proposals to allow college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. In June, the NCAA announced a new policy that allows student-athletes to make money from endorsements from brands, monetize their social media, and work directly with firms to help them manage their brands. This was a seismic shift from its long-standing belief that athletes were amateurs and should not receive payments.

In this Solving for B episode, we discuss the impact of this policy shift. Who does it benefit/hurt? What are the branding implications for the athletes, colleges, and the NCAA? 

Episode Outline

**This transcript has been edited for readability

Chris Wilks: Welcome to Solving for B°. I'm your host, Chris Wilks, and I'm super excited for today's topic, which is the impact that the name, image and likeness ruling will have on the brands at the NCAA, its member institutions and the athletes themselves. And to help me break down the topic I'm joined by our Chairman Jonathan Fisher, President and CEO, Bo Bothe, and our Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Kyle Smith.

So let's talk name, image and likeness – or as it's more commonly referred to as NIL. So before we dive in too deep, I want to set the table for some of the listeners who may not be familiar with what's going on.

So basically, the NCAA has conceded that they'll no longer restrict athletes from profiting off of their name, image and likeness, which has long been prohibited in college sports. This announcement happened earlier this summer, and it's been pretty chaotic since the day it happened. So lets make a little bit of since with the chaos.

The Projected Impact of N-I-L

Chris: Where I want to start is how is this going to impact or how do we think this is going to impact the schools, the member institutions of the NCAA? How do you think is going to impact their brands?

Bo Bothe: Well, I think it's a mixed bag. Initially, you could think that right now while the schools don't technically make money directly off of the name, image or likeness of their all-stars or their superstars, they do benefit from their notoriety, right? And the student-athlete doesn't benefit financially.

Now, while they may be popular on whatever platform they are on. and then that if they go to another level on some platform, but I think the two things are existing schools have a little bit more control right now, because they are the PR mouth, they are the people that promote these athletes, and that's going to change dramatically.

Then there's going to be the haves and have nots that you see, so how this is going to impact schools themselves it's up in the air, but if a school manages this appropriately, I think they can really benefit from it. It'll be interesting to see where the student goes, that's my biggest concern is what happens. If I'm making so much money that my classes really don't matter what does that do to me psychologically? But that's a whole nother thing.

Chris Wilks: Yeah. And we'll definitely talk about the impact it will have on the students and as well as the brands of those students, right? But for me, I think one of the things you touched on Bo is that the haves and the have nots, right? And I don't necessarily think it's... I don't know, the delineation or that line is going to be for me, the schools that can embrace this or adapt to it quickly, right? Kyle and I have talked about some of these programs, I'm an LSU fan as you guys know very well, the schools like LSU who have rebranded themselves already as NILSU.

So all their Twitter handles and all that stuff is all updated to say, "Hey, look, we're going to incubate your brand if you come here, we're going to help." Alabama's doing that, Ohio State, I'm sure Michigan, Notre Dame, I'm sure that the big boys are already doing that, but I think there is an opportunity for the schools that may currently be let's say non-power five, or they call and group of five, I think there's an opportunity. If you really lean into this thing, I'm not suggesting that you're going to ultimately be competing with the SEC on the field, but you're going to stand a lot better chance, maybe a better chance than you ever have before, of recruiting maybe some top tier talent, because there is a possible financial incentive for them to come to your school, as opposed to historically there has not been.

I mean, don't know, do we think that this is going to make the school's brand, so let's say the Texas Tech's maybe is that brands going to become more or less valuable and powerful do we think?

Bo Bothe: I think that there's a huge opportunity I think for especially the mid tiers, because if you're one of three top tier quarterback recruits that are all going to Alabama because you want your shot, and we see what transfers have done over the last couple years and the changes in some of the transfer rules. I might be more apt to go to a Texas Tech and be the face of their program, whereas at LSU I got to sit behind Joe Burrow for a year. Well, I don't want to do that, I don't want to waste that year because it's costing me money, and so I think it could actually benefit the mid tier programs a little bit more.

Even some of the smaller schools from a standpoint of, hey why not come be the face of this? We may not win a ton of games and play in national championship, but we are at a conference that is televised, and oh, by the way who cares? Because social media is what's going to blow up. And if you're throwing 100 yard touchdown passes not against Alabama's defense and not against LSU's defense, what's to say you're not going to get more visibility here than you would rolling the dice that as an Auburn or rolling the dice as a Texas A&M? I don't know, it'd be interesting to see because I can see where it could cut both ways.

Chris Wilks: Yeah, I'm fascinated by that, but Jonathan chime in.

Jonathan Fisher: Well Chris, you asked how is this going to impact the schools? I think first off, it's going to create a whole layer of complexity that they aren't prepared for. The bigger schools may have the capacity and the bandwidth to jump on it early like you said, but I think the mid tier and smaller schools are going to be struggling with everything from the legal regulations or rules to training boosters, to coaching and educating their recruits that they're bringing on, on what can and can't be done. So I think there's an entire layer of complexity here that they're just going to be blindsided by because as it is right now, a lot of schools even struggle with their own basic marketing.

Now multiply that times 50, 60, or 500 individuals that are going to be trying to generate revenue and exposure for themselves and for their careers within that same set of framework that's there. So I think that's a big piece of the complication that's going to be coming out a lot of these institutions right out of the gate.

Chris Wilks: Yeah, the compliance departments better get... Well, it's weird too because of two minds, right? So you have the compliance piece of that where we need to be in lockstep with the NCAA rules, but the trick there is that the NCAA they've basically taken a step back and haven't put really strong parameters on it. So it boils down to different state laws and state regulations, but also, in the athletic department like Powerade is the official sports drink of LSU, right? What happens whenever they're running back or Derek Stingley Jr, who's their cornerback, star cornerback, he wants to go and Gatorade approaches him? How do you make those two work together? Are there exclusive licenses? Are there not?

And it's already started to be chaotic out of the gate, you would imagine there'd be some sort of... I don't want call it correction, but some sort of transition into maybe okay, this is how this thing is going to work, but for right now Jonathan I think you're right, it's going to be like a trial by fire. [crosstalk 00:09:30].

Jonathan Fisher: You've got a little bit of a gold rush going on right now, but let's just take bandwidth capacity and rules and compliance and set those aside and just look at the sheer impact to cultural management. If these individuals are gaining tons of followers and making tons of money, how are they going to juggle that from a peer pressure standpoint? Are they mentally ready to handle it? Is the cultural program ready to deal with the fall outs and ramifications of pre Madonna personalities that may be created overnight? What's that going to do to the institutions and just how are they going to juggle that? So I think there's so many dimensions to this that are going to be interesting to watch it unfold.

Bo Bothe: Well, And I think people are going to from a purely marketing standpoint, I mean, when you look at branding and brand association, right? And Chris you just talked about it, what happens when Gatorade and Powerade collide? When you think about it from an influencer standpoint, Jonny scores a touchdown and jumps over, all the sudden the skill... He flips in the air and scores a touchdown, right? And the Nike logo wipes in the air slowly, and then he puts that on his Twitter page or an Instagram or boomerangs it in some sort of way, and the Nike logo keeps popping up over and over and over. Well, Nike is paying that school to sponsor their shoes, and then from an influencer standpoint is Nike then going to go, oh, I'll pay you for every hit you get, I'm going to pay you whatever the contract is but then how does that...

So Jonathan's point from a structural standpoint and contractual standpoint, to your point the collision of the different brands, and then Johnny's oh, gosh, right? He's not sponsored by Nike, but his post is sponsored by Nike, right? And so I think that's something that nobody is talking about yet as much, is those the kind of long tail is sponsored posts capabilities. It's going to be one thing to have and I hate to say it Johnny Manziel hawking cars in College Station, right? As the quarterback of Texas A&M, it's going to be another thing that the Joe Deep Snapper makes some crazy play and it blows up, and 52 people want their ad popping up every time it shows. I mean, this is so complicated and it's going to create a lot of really strange brand associations and collisions.

And time will tell who that benefits, but ultimately though, it benefits the school, right? Because if the school's got their logo on the shoe and the school, I mean, they may not be getting paid, but they're getting the impression. So it'll be really interesting to see how all that plays out.

Jonathan Fisher: Well, and you just touched on the long tail effect, right? So what is the long tail ramifications of this? These students are young, their minds aren't fully developed to handle the future implications of what they might decide to do now five, 10 years down the road how it might affect their professional careers. So I just think to throw that dimension into it, it's this whole sort of future coaching, and almost, I think there's going to be this niche industry that's created just to deal with this beyond what already exists. I think there's going to be a whole specialized set of skill sets and organizations and consultants out there that are going to be working with these institutions and these young professional future players.

Bo Bothe: These young not professional, semi-professional, professional athletes, professional student-athletes?

The Schools That Embrace N-I-L Will Have a Competitive Advantage

Chris Wilks: Yeah, never mind their status, I mean, what does it make them when it comes to things like the Olympics, or when it comes to things like amateur competition? They're now getting paid, what is that? Again, how the rules play themselves out that we'll adapt to it so that the right people are getting the right things mostly. We always do, but there are going to be those especially strange collisions now both psychologically and emotionally, but also brand wise.

Kyle Smith: Well, I think going back to what Jonathan said about schools that are being opportunistic are already seeing ways to gain a competitive advantage by building systems to help these athletes promote their brands. Duquesne basketball is one that comes to mind, they hired an individual who's a personal brand coach, he's there specifically to support the athletes in building their brands. Like you mentioned Chris, a lot of schools have shifted, totally shifted their messaging to we have X number of followers, this is how visible our brand is, this is how we can help you grow your visibility by the brand association there.

Think about it's Bryce Young at Alabama and a comment Nick Saban made recently about he hasn't played one down for Alabama yet he has over a million dollars in endorsement deals already. Is that Bryce Young, or is that because of the strength of Alabama's brand? And then one more thing about what you mentioned earlier Bo, are student-athletes going to select opportunities to go to schools may be based more on visibility of the program or the program's ability to support their brand more than the ability of the program to win.

Chris Wilks: I was going to say it's crazy to me to think about all the possibilities and implications of this, because you have theses schools that it's always a debate who's DBU? Who's RVU? Who turns in the best quarterbacks and all that kind of stuff? So it's always been a perceived value, right? As a quarterback, I'm going to go play at Purdue because they put quarterbacks in the NFL, right? Maybe they're not winning a ton of games, but they've got a system there where they develop quarterbacks. Well, now there's a monetary component to that so it'll be interesting to see if in this example, if Purdue decides hey, let's put our focus into recruiting and branding ourselves as the quarterback whispers.

Not only is there a potential future in it for you to go to the league, but there is an immediate potential for you to cash in on that because you are the quarterback at QBU and that stands for something, that's worth something. So it would be interesting, but Bo what were you going to chime in on?

Bo Bothe: Yeah, not to disagree a little bit with what Jonathan said, but social media is a leveler. I think the access of a Duquesne to have two or three really awesome content generators, and their access to having video, like the university's got their own communications crew to develop a lot of this. I mean, it's unbelievable how much content Texas Tech puts on Instagram. To me, it blows my mind, right? And that's a team of four. Duquesne now has this opportunity to compete with if they're able to generate content at a high level, and fill up somebody posts, then there's an ownership thing with the content. I mean, that's a whole nother deal to like, who videos this and who owns it?

I mean, if this is the school's tape, or if Johnny's picking a thing off of CBS or ESPN, and then he profits or she profits from it on a social channel, there's a copyright issue there. I mean, there are just so many crazy things here, but I think you tapped into Kyle and Chris what you're talking about with a Purdue like a mid. They all now are competing, right? Now with the brand, the Texas brand, or the Alabama brand that's out there, it's obviously going to carry greater weight, it's obviously going to have more eyeballs on it, it's obviously going to have more impressions on ESPN, which only helps that athlete when they're throwing 52 touchdown passes. Which I think is going to again, drive these guys to run up the score because-

Chris Wilks: It's good for the brand.

Bo Bothe: The more touchdown passes I throw the more I'm going to show up as opposed to "Hey, look we're benching him in the third so he doesn't get hurt." Which never happens anymore, by the way, but I don't man, it's crazy.

Kyle Smith: But also to flip that thinking a little bit, it's almost a coup when some smaller school attracts an individual who has in high school built a huge following on social media. I think there's an athlete at BYU and she runs her own YouTube channel, Instagram, thousands and thousands of followers, and the school is benefiting tremendously from the visibility that they get on her channel as well. So just it can be mutually beneficial when you play it right.

Jonathan Fisher: Well, symbiotic relationships cut both ways, and Kyle's exactly right, but you also take that risk on if they do something foolish. Your brand gets tanked when their brand gets tanked a little bit so this is a double-edged sword.

Chris Wilks: Right. And I think that's more of a caveat to the brands that will be sponsoring these athletes, because you've always had that like with... Look again, I'll say this 10 times in this episode, but I'm an LSU fan, and I can tell you every year going into training camp it's like, oh, well, this guy is going to get kicked out the team because he did something silly or whatever. And there's enough brand affinity, there's enough brand loyalty there, there's brand insulation there, that it doesn't damage the LSU brand. It's fairly insulated from that, but it'll be interesting to see if somebody gets in trouble and they're sponsored by even the local car dealership, right? That brand might have to deal with backlash from that kid smoking pot and getting kicked off the team, whatever it is so it does introduce a whole different dynamic.

Jonathan Fisher: Well, it might create an incentive structure for some of these kids to think a little bit more about their personal brands, right? If they're getting paid to manage it better it might positively reward and encourage and discourage some of that negative behavior and encourage the positive behaviors out of this process. I mean, that can be a benefit from all of us.

The N-I-L Impact on Personal Brands of Athletes

Chris Wilks: Definitely. And so you guys are doing my job for me, you have transitioned successfully into talking about, it's where we were going next, is how does this impact the brands of those individuals, of those student athletes if that's what we're still calling them? How does this impact them? Obviously, there's the now they can make name, image and likeness, but what are some of the considerations that they need to take into account as they're trying to build their brand or leverage their brand? As experts yourselves in branding, is there anything that they should probably consider or think about?

Kyle Smith: Well, I think going off Jonathan said about... I think the athletes that think like entrepreneurs, and they take these sponsorships and they reinvest it in building their own brands, building almost their own media companies, are going to have that advantage long term. Thinking about once their playing days are over are they taking that sponsorship money and actually investing it, or are they spending it on other things? So that'll be interesting, but I think the ones that think like entrepreneurs have that big advantage long term.

Chris Wilks: Yeah. Are they being smart with it like you said Kyle, or are they being Chris Wilks at 18 years old and just blowing it on Natural Light, and fast food and crap like that? Go ahead Jon.

Jonathan Fisher: They're all going to enroll in business schools and marketing communications programs, is that what we're saying?

Chris Wilks: Or it might behoove them to so, right?

Jonathan Fisher: Exactly, right? Yeah, it might change their career path.

Bo Bothe: Well, I do think much like when we encourage companies to really think about their ethos or the way they want people to think about them, I think athletes do this already like top tier athletes. Tom Brady squeaky clean, look at me I'm so good kind of thing, and a lot of the even college athletes deal with that, but they don't get as much face time to have to really worry about it. I think now you're going to have the Wow, he's in the Brian Bosworth bad boy character, and she's in Hope Solo bad girl character, and he's in the clean cut Joe Burrow character, and he isn't a wild party guy.

I think the hard part, and this is back to what you were a little bit talking about right at the beginning Jonathan, this is a young person, right? And so when they become into it, it's almost like a Disney star, right? When they get into that cult of personality, it's going to be really hard for them to then break it when they're not a superstar anymore. And so that's a byproduct, that's not the topic of this, but being thoughtful, building on what Kyle was talking about, being thoughtful about their brands, their persona, the way they want to be seen, and the best way to do that is to be true to who you are.

And if you're a jerk on the football field then be a jerk. I mean, if you're just a mean, angry, if you have to play football angry then that's what you need to be and then you get angry sponsors. I mean, Angry Orchard is now your sponsor, whatever, but I think those are the things that they don't think about right now they just are, and I think they're going to have to become more deliberate as time goes on if they want to monetize this in a different way, and if they want to manage their own personality. And schools are already doing that for them, but the schools are putting them in a box and I think now these kids they're going to have more say in how people perceive them. Good and bad, right or wrong, which will turn into a recruiting thing.

Do we want this kid because we know he's going to have a platform or she's going to have a platform, and holy crap they play really angry, and I don't want a Draymond Green on my team. I don't want to be perceived that way. Even though I want them, I don't want the perception to be that.

The Best Way to Build and Insulate a Brand is With Content

Kyle Smith: And I think the best way to build a brand is to create content. And you don't own your brand you manage it, and the best way for you personally to have that management, not control, but manage your brand is to be visible and create content for YouTube and social media. And I think that's what athletes need to do to build their personal brands, and it's consistency in sharing that content over time.

Chris Wilks: Which is helpful to a lot of these athletes that get misnomered too. I mean, some of them they have one play that defines them, but if they have a ton of content out there that's contrary to that one play, it's harder to go, oh, that's the guy that dropped the pass, or that's the woman that missed the shot, or that's the person that hit the hurdle. It's oh, look at all this other content out here about how big a human being they are, how broad they are, all that kind of stuff. All of a sudden ESPN doesn't get to over and over and over and over, or Twitter doesn't get to over and over and over show their one non shining moment, right? And so to your point Kyle, you can protect your brand a lot by being more visible in the right ways. And so I don't know, that's a whole nother thing to talk about which is pretty interesting.

Jonathan Fisher: Well, it's like any corporate brand, you can build up good corporate citizenship through philanthropy, through days of service, through giving back in many different ways, foundation sponsorships and whatnot, these individuals are going to have to start thinking about that side of their brand. So that they can Kyle to your point protect or insulate them brand themselves against those accidents, those missteps, those foolish things you do as a teenager, as a young adult. Because the public's going to be more forgiving if they've earn those credits, if you will, those chips through that positivity of those things where they've given back to others and to nonprofits and to whatever it be.

Jonathan Fisher: But if they make this all about just endorsements and for any product that wants to pay them money, it's not going to be building any protection around their process to Kyle's point about generating the type of content and being strategic about the type of content that they put together. Not just athletic content and talent out there on the field, but that whole man, that 360 of what it means to be a professional athlete in today's highly public, highly visible 24/7-

Chris Wilks: You mean student professional athlete, right?

Jonathan Fisher: Student professional, pro and student athlete-

Chris Wilks: I'm still trying to figure that out.

Jonathan Fisher: Yeah, I'm going to keep like coming up with new acronyms during this conversation, but the Semi Pro, amateur-

Chris Wilks: The SPA.

Jonathan Fisher: Yeah. They got to think about this, so I think stepping back and looking at themselves and starting to learn what it means to manage a brand to Kyle's point because in today's society anybody can trash any brand and it's almost impossible to "control". You can't stop people from saying stuff, or doing things against the brand, but you can manage that and react against that. And that's where I think they're going to need a lot of guidance and help in thinking about their own future, what do they want it to be? And just like a corporation does mission, vision and values and strategic planning, they need to do that for themselves not just from an athletic standpoint, but from a brand perspective now, right?

Bo Bothe: Well, but how many of you guys other than me, actually sat down and thought about that at 12? I mean, I'm just saying-

Jonathan Fisher: Nobody, right? There are very rare.

Bo Bothe: There are very few people that have a sense of self at that age, that's big enough to manage a significant online personality without being swayed or tainted. It's going to be interesting, I think just forget the psychology of it all, it's just how is this going to change culture in college athletics? How is it going to change... I was thinking high school today, my daughter just today made the volleyball team, yay, she's got a different... I mean, if she wanted to play college athletics this is a different landscape. Where my son was like, I don't want to spend the extra time and play college ball, it's they own you and I want to go do other things.

Now, I might think about training a little harder in high school, I might think about pushing myself a little bit more because the Duquesne or the Duquesne's now have a voice and I go play there. And there is an opportunity for me beyond just school to make some money and even to altruistically pay for my college if I'm not a scholarship athlete or help my family out. So we talked a little bit slanted toward the negative, but there are some wonderful opportunities that this offers these athletes so whatever we believe is right or wrong, or is good or bad, the reality is we talk how are you going to take advantage of this in a way that fits your persona?

And I think that's a big component of this, that even at the high school level it's going to impact forget the superstar the mid tier athlete, this affects them, especially when you're talking about small local schools. There may be a car dealership in Lubbock, Texas, that's going to pick up some tight end because they're just a bigger than life person. There are never going to play college, but they make the one catch and it blows up and it pays for a semester. There are those kinds of things that are going to happen.

Jonathan Fisher: There's already child influencers that make tens of millions of dollars, right? So I think this is just going to put pressure on really young kids because some parents we know the kind of parents they are from day one, my kid's going to be an Olympian or he's going to make starting pitcher for the Yankees. This is going to create a whole nother layer because there's already tons of child influencers and teenage influencers out there that are dealing with this, and now you just opened up another layer to it at this level.

Kyle Smith: I think we've been we've been asked before about is it worth investing in social media, in digital content that could be for B2B company or personal brands? And I think at the end of the day, the benefits of being visible out weigh those risks, and you even have to question if an athlete isn't active on social media, but is performing on the field are they shooting themselves in the foot? Or from the risk of becoming obsolete? Or like you were saying earlier Bo, you can protect your brand by creating content, and if they're not doing that and they have this one misstep, or this one moment in time, and they haven't invested in that does that potentially hurt them?

Bo Bothe: Yeah. I mean, it'll be an interesting... Because there's a part of me, the old dude in me, and there's part of me that's like, just go do your job and it'll all work out. And while that's a nice thought in today's world, I don't know if that's enough anymore. I mean, having been involved coached tournament and basketball, been involved in the recruiting process, seeing what goes on and how it happens, you got to sell yourself if you're not just a superstar. Because there's the other 80% of college or 90% of college athletes that just go on the field and they play, or they go on the court, or they get on the track, or they do whatever and they just get it done.

I think it's going to make... I mean, you already have tons of applications and ways to huddle, and max prep, and tons of ways to get your content online, and then to your point Jonathan, when you're at the school, I mean, again, following my Red Raiders I meant to completely be geared out today and I forgot. But Instagram blows up every time they go to a hospital, or they provide gifts at Christmas, or they do whatever man that Tech puts up thousands of pictures, right? And to your point Kyle, there is at least a reshare that should happen to that individual when they're pictured that individuals to do what Jonathan's talking about, which is protect your brand at least.

Hey, look at all these opportunities my school gives me to go do good in the community, I'm out here being involved. If I'm in the echo chamber of that person's feed, I'm thinking wow they're really good guys. I don't realize that the university is generating a ton of that content for me. I think there's just some basic blocking and tackling that these kids are going to have to think about, that they're probably doing already anyway, but how do you do that in a way that's beneficial to your brand and is that thoughtful? Which again, is an 18, 19, 20 year old being really thoughtful about their brand at that age?

You Don't Own Your Brand, You Manage It

Chris Wilks: Yeah. Well, and something strikes me, a couple things really. One is that Bo you talked about the 90%, right? And the number frankly is probably even higher, for like 95% of athletes that this is going to be there moment, and moment is strong, but this is going to be their opportunity to cash in. Maybe that guy who makes the one handed catch who's a walk on and that ends up all over Sports Center. He'll be able to cash in as to where look, he doesn't have a future in the NFL, right? That was his one shining moment and he can make good on that, so I think in that aspect and even some of these swimmers, or Kyle and I talked about the most followed college athlete on social media is a gymnast from LSU.

I'm an LSU fan, I have no idea who she was prior to that, but the day of NIO got enacted she was in Times Square with all these billboards and announcing all these deals. So it gives her an opportunity that otherwise she may have gone on to parlay that into like a good social media influencer career, but maybe not, right? Maybe God forbid an injury happens and her moment to cash in on that is gone, so in that way it's a good thing. But another thing that dawns on me, another piece that dawns on me is that a lot of this stuff, a lot of this branding, if you will, and in personal branding and all that stuff it's kind of happened, it's just now there's the money component on it, right?

I think back to the Vince Youngs and the Matt Leinarts, and you even talked about Brian Bosworth and going all the way back there to present day, these guys have had brands and it goes back, Kyle you alluded to it, you don't-

Jonathan Fisher: You don't own your brand you manage it.

Chris Wilks: You don't own your brand you manage it, those whether you liked it or not you became that guy, that heavy hitter, that guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder, the all American, the whatever it is, you were that brand it's just now the opportunity is there for those people to... Well one, it's the opportunity to cash in on it, but two, it just shines a brighter light and emphasizes the importance of those folks managing that brand. And then I guess the final piece of it that crossed my mind is are there enough hours in the day for a guy like... Think about a guy like Johnny Manziel, right?

At his hype when his hype was as big as it was, I have never considered myself a Johnny Manziel fan, but there's no doubt his brand took on a life of its own and I think it ate him up. I think it overwhelmed him, but thinking about if you have to go to class to maintain grades, right? NCAA and schools have these GPA averages, if there's a need to manage your brand, create content for your brand, then there's practices, if you can try to squeeze in some personal life in there, there's going to be a lot of stresses added to these student athletes. And I'm not saying that they won't be compensated for it, but the highest of the high in there, frankly they're probably going to have to hire two, three, four people teams.

I mean, Kyle you mentioned Bryce Young earlier, he hasn't played a snap for Alabama and he's got a million dollars in the bank or a million dollars worth of endorsements. If he has more, if he has more success, and the endorsements come flowing in, then you're going to hire a guy who's going to be an agent, or somebody who helps with your bookings, and helps you to schedule and all that kind of stuff. But then it sucks because then their kids, right? And how do you protect them from bad actors who are just trying to make their money? Yeah, it's all a complicated web-

Bo Bothe: And oh, by the way, when are they going to class?

Chris Wilks: Yeah.

Bo Bothe: I mean, I don't mean to be the voice of reason here, and it gets crazy, but there is a value to that education. And I know that everybody's gone on and on I'm not a fan of the college football playoff, but at this point, it's an avalanche that needs to happen, right? It ruined the bowls, it ruined... My ability to go to some crazy place somewhere else and watch a game is getting more and more limited, right? And more and more relevant to be frank, but then you start to add these money making things to it and then at what point... I mean what people will say as well, they were just being taken advantage of by the schools and they weren't going to school for class, they were just going to school for football.

Well, shame to all those people. I mean, this is an amazing opportunity for them, and you watch this with these Olympic athletes they know that they're not going to make lifetime money running track. Some of them can now, but mostly they're getting degrees and in research for cancer and going to Columbia and I mean, they're parlaying their athletic excellence into really nice opportunities. Now, the other side of it is probably 90% of the people that are doing that on scholarship are doing that, there's another 5%, 3% that all we hear about where they're not going to class.

I mean, I remember Byron Hanspard and that didn't work out in the pros, but just didn't go to classes last semester. And there just always there's a commitment there, and there is a payment, there is something that comes to those student athletes in the gift of an education. And they're earning, they're working hard and doing that, but are the schools taking advantage of them? Probably, but I don't know man, all way back to Jonathan was talking about, there's just a fundamental component to this is like, they are getting to go to college at a top tier university like the University of Texas as much as it pains me to say that name.

That's amazing and it's a blessing for them, how do they take advantage of that too? And then we add this layer of complication on there, I mean, how many students are going to flame out because they spent all their time on Twitter and they didn't go to class? I mean, it's interesting, but it's like let's take a breath here guys, this isn't just about making money.

Chris Wilks: Yeah, I think one thing's for certain and that we've outlined here and you guys made really good points on is this stuff needs to be managed, right? The expectations, the Bo if there's an athlete who spends all his time on Twitter because look hey, I'm going for it, it's all or nothing here and he doesn't go to class the squanders the opportunity. Then like you said shame on him, but how much more is this going to increase that-

Bo Bothe: The inclination to do that.

The Impact on the NCAA Brand: Will It Survive?

Chris Wilks: The desire to do that correct? Okay. So the last piece I want to talk about here, we've talked about the institutions themselves, and we've talked about the athletes, I want to talk about how this is going to impact the NCAA. I've been hearing a lot of, and I don't know that I agree with it, but I want to get your guys take on it, I've been hearing a lot of this is the end of the NCAA is as we know it. Do I think it's going to be the exact same form? No, but I don't think it goes away. I think there's still a place for it here, but how does this impact their brand? I mean, there's a lot of animosity towards that brand. We have a previous podcast episode, shameless plug here, that talks about the NCAA and their role in all this or prior to this, but their role in college athletics. What does this do to the power of the NCAA brand?

Kyle Smith: I think it's done. I think the power is in the hands of the universities and the conferences now, where even the SEC I feel like I think is discussing separating from the NCAA and creating their own rules and governing themselves. And I think it's years of talking about student athletes and student coming first and going pro in something other than sports, which should still be the goal of college athletics like you were just talking about Bo, but that's something that they've let the athletes be taken advantage of from a compensation aspect for a number of years now and I think it's finally come back to bite them. I think just in the past couple days, they've had some emergency meetings to discuss changing their mission as an institution, so that will be interesting to see what they come out with as they try and pivot and rebuild their messaging going forward.

Chris Wilks: Did they put an RFP out for that? Because I think know a couple of guys who might be able to help.

Kyle Smith: May be able to do something like that.

Chris Wilks: I think we might be able to help, but yeah that's an interesting take. And I mean, look you very well might be right, but as Bo you reference yourself as being the old guy mentality in the room. Look, if the NCAA goes away and the and the SEC breaks off and does its own thing, I got to say look I'm a staunch as an SEC supporter, LSU supporter, maybe not as there is, but look, I love college football, it's every Saturday in the fall I'm going to be in front of a television watching that. I think if the SEC goes away, or these conferences start breaking off and doing their own thing man, that significantly changes and devalues the product. Because I get really excited for these inter conference match ups, and these big games between... I think it hurts if the NCAA does go away just that's my own personal opinion, and this isn't about opinion, it's more about facts and what we think is going to happen, but I don't know, you might be right, but I hope you're wrong.

Bo Bothe: Yeah, I think the NCAA brand, look, it's really complicated, and I think that's a whole nother podcast, we can talk about that at some point again, but-

Chris Wilks: Yeah, part two on that.

Bo Bothe: Yeah. Because I mean, what happens to swimming, a swimming program in a university? What happens to a gymnastics program in a university? What happens when all that matters is the football program or the basketball program? And then they have more control and they don't have to distribute revenue, and they don't have to do some of the things that the NCAA has done a good job of doing, and equity and all that kind of stuff. What happens? I mean, is your career and water polo done because these schools can't afford to do it? And there's no revenue sharing anymore and so it gets all jacked up.

I mean, I think we may be at an inflection point where there needs to be another tier or division, just like there's a Division II and a Division II in the NCAA, NAIA and all that stuff, we may just be at that point, there's just too many teams. That's fine, but I don't know it could go either way Kyle, I think changing missions is an interesting kind of uh, really? I mean, you've been this way for a long time or you change your mission because of your friend, or you changed your mission because you were wrong. I think at the end of the day, the NCAA brand can significantly benefit from this because there are student athletes that are doing well, if that brand is still associated with the schools and the conferences then everything rises, and now we've got this whole pay thing taken care of.

And the NCAA doesn't have to do anything but put a handful of rules on it and let the schools police themselves. If that overall governing body goes away, it might be better for the SEC, but I'll tell you I'm not going to be watching a ton of SEC games because I'm like one, Texas and A&M and Oklahoma are dead to me now.

Chris Wilks: And Missouri.

Bo Bothe: And Missouri didn't count anyway, but they're dead to me now. And why do I watch that? I didn't go to any of the schools, I don't have an affiliation with any of them, I don't care about any of them, now-

Chris Wilks: There's the NFL, right? There's the NFL. So yeah, there's a better quality product.

Bo Bothe: Yeah, and I love college football, I'll watch a game, but I'm not going to get into it because I have no dog in that hunt anymore. And so I think narrowing down the target audiences may come back to bite people in the rear. It's not just because the ESPN televises their games that they're popular, it's there is something to college sports about being a part of a conference or being a part of a bigger thing, that attracts people to those brands. And I think the NCAA nobody thought about that, but the NCAA was holding all that together in a weird maybe not perfect way, but now when they can go whatever PAC 12 plays at midnight I'm out unless Texas Tech as the PAC 12 and then I'm watching.

But that's I don't know, it's interesting, it's a great question, and time will tell, I don't know if the NCAA has I think to your point Kyle, lost a little control there. And that's the big issue here is that we're putting control in the players hands, and that's going to change the dynamic at schools, it's going to change the dynamic for conferences, and it definitely changes the dynamic of the NCAA brand.

Jonathan Fisher: I think the NCAA has a role, I don't think it goes away, I'm going to take an opposing view from Kyle and I'll tell you why. One look, the NCAA's mission is to regulate intercollegiate athletics, right? And it's supposed to enhance the higher education process and it's supposed to protect things to be fair, and safe and sports and the like. And so I think that because the states are going to be empowered to set some of their own regulations, I think there's going to be this role to still provide a governance role, to provide this leveling perspective to these...

Their mission may shift a little bit, but I think there's still going to be this need for some glue, and some security, and some oversight across the board otherwise, I think it's Wild Wild West. And I think the NCAA can move into that role, they may not own it, but they may help manage it, or regulate it, or monitor it, or guide against it across what may be a very set of unleveled playing fields state by state across all of this. So I think that they're still needed in that regard, and maybe some of their other efforts and activities and focus drop off, but we still need a lot of that core from their mission.

Chris Wilks: They need to evolve I think there's no question there, but Kyle I want to give you a chance to cross-examine.

Kyle Smith: Well, I'm with everything that was just said, I'm not wishing for the NCAA's downfall, I think what does get overlooked in a lot of these conversations is what everyone's mentioned. All the good that it's done over the years, and it's been that glue for these schools, created this culture, this community that we've all gravitated to, but I think there's even a changing dynamic of athletes thinking about what's the best developmental pathway for me? And that's changing rapidly in sports like soccer and basketball, where you're not going to college if you're serious, a serious athlete is not the best option for you. Soccer and basketball are the two that come to mind where companies are paying high school basketball athletes to sign with them and play in their leagues. And then MLS is creating U-23 leagues for those athletes who are on the cusp of going pro in their first team, so it's just one more piece of what is eroding the NCAA's brand and control over specifically athletics.

Chris Wilks: I think this was great, we covered a lot here, we covered a lot of ground, it's super interesting. I think we're all on some level sports fan, so I think just aside from the branding aspect is really cool, but just talking about what these two worlds colliding is really cool. So I appreciate the time.