Sometimes it pays to patient or just perpetually behind. Whatever.
When Texas Tech announced the new “Beyond Verified” program, a program to help student-athletes understand and create a brand from their name, image, and likeness (NIL), I understood it, but wanted to know a bit more before really writing something. I will say that the video was really slick and on a very simple level, it makes sense and it is easy to understand. That’s intentional.
I kind of figured that it was something to do with their partner, OpenDorse, which is going to take a bit of explanation but it is the program that the athletic department has been utilizing to help student-athletes make those viral posts and content for them. It can be content that’s actually loaded onto their social media accounts by the athletic department. It’s what professional athletes do and it absolutely makes sense that college athletes get a similar experience.
And things became much more clear with these two tweets from Jeremy Darlow, who has partnered with OpenDorse to create this slick program to teach these student-athletes exactly how to create a brand for themselves.
This course and this PARTNERSHIP with @TexasTech is about the next 40 YEARS of LIFE and CAREER, not just the next 4 years playing a sport in college.
It’s bigger than ⚽️🏀🏈⚾️🥎 and Texas Tech gets it… #AthletesAreBrandsToo
We’re just getting started in Lubbock. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/x0inAKggAh
— Jeremy Darlow (@JeremyDarlow) June 1, 2021
I know that this is maybe something that you all aren’t a fan of and that’s fine. The world is turning this direction whether you like it or not. Texas is set to pass legislation to permit student-athletes to profit off of their NIL. I should add that I have not even remotely read the legislation and I’d hesitate to comment too much without having read the statute. Regardless, in some form or fashion, these student-athletes will see some income because of their NIL.
Athletic director Kirby Hocutt discussed the program from the article linked above:
“When you think about the Texas Tech brand, you think about the promise of the highest-quality education and competing on the biggest stages in college athletics,” Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt said. “There is a promise and conviction of an entire fan base here that is as passionate as any program in the country. That’s a promise we can guarantee to our student-athletes, one that enables a connection to the entire Red Raider Nation. The Texas Tech brand provides our student-athletes the opportunity to be at the forefront of this changing landscape.”
In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, if you ain’t first, you’re last and if Texas Tech wasn’t ready to roll out their own program with the NIL legislation drops, they’d be behind the proverbial eight ball. And make no mistake that this program is being to recruits.
The best resources. The best partnerships. The best NIL program. It’s all right here in Lubbock.
Build, grow, and safeguard your personal brand here! pic.twitter.com/ak95TjVhWu
— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) June 1, 2021
And for further explanation about what OpenDorse and Darlow actually are, this article about the partnership between OpenDorse and Darlow, which has the sole intent on partnering with college athletic departments:
Opendorse Ready partners and new customers can now add Ready with Darlow to provide athletes, coaches, and administrators with direct access to the advanced NIL readiness program featuring Darlow-led live coaching, course, and resources.
“Our partner athletic programs will be fully equipped to build personal brands that transcend sports, making them ideal destinations for athletes everywhere. Ready with Darlow is here change the industry and the lives of young women and men around the world for the better.” – Jeremy Darlow
The program represents the premier athlete brand development experience available today in college athletics. Opendorse’s data-backed endorsement management expertise pairs with Darlow’s extensive athlete brand building experience to produce the market’s most holistic, tangible personal brand development program for student-athletes and partner athletic departments.
I think there’s a lot to be worked out. College athletics is one of the few things I can think of where people don’t profit off their NIL if given the opportunity. Capitalism at its best.
And if you want to really dig deep into this subject, Andry Wittry wrote a very lengthy piece about the comparison between the states on state income taxes, student-athletes creating entities, and establishing residency can affect how certain states could pull ahead of others. As an example, certain states have a higher state income tax while others don’t. The running joke in my head is how this never really ends up benefiting the Dallas professional teams. Fans would regularly call into shows and predict a free agent would sign with a Dallas team rather than a California team because of the state income tax. Without diving too deep on my own, income, property, and sales tax probably even things out on some level, but student-athletes aren’t going to own property so not completely relevant. Regardless, an interesting read if you like this sort of thing.
It’s a brand new world and it will be really interesting to see how this plays out over time. If we make the comparison, this whole thing hasn’t even tipped off or kicked off yet, everyone is still warming up until the legislation becomes effective, but July 1st? Look out.