NIL collectives play a prominent role in the new era of college sports. The movement and models are not slowing down. Of 65 member schools within the Power 5 conferences, 92% have at least one collective established or in the process of forming. We caught up with Nick Shuley from Clark Field Collective to learn how University of Texas student-athletes are making an impact in the local Austin, Texas community.
Shuley has an extensive background in social media, marketing, storytelling, and working with high-profile people. Through his network, Shuley connected with Texas Men’s Basketball player Andrew Jones. Jones was looking for help sharing his journey battling cancer and raising money for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. After connecting with the Texas compliance department and a few other student-athletes, Shuley quickly learned there was a gap between connecting student-athletes and those who wanted to support them.
“I realized that they weren’t making the money that I thought they were. All the articles we read were about Bryce Young making $1,000,000 and things like that.” Shuley noticed. “How can I connect these student-athletes to opportunities and help them figure out how to access dollars that they deserve by being who they are and figuring out how to monetize those things?”
After learning more about NIL and researching what was legal and not, Clark Field Collective was born.
Shuley is a University of Texas graduate and has spent the majority of his life in Austin. He has always been involved in the community. He was watching an interview with a student-athlete and the interviewer asked what their favorite restaurant in Austin was. The student-athlete admitted that he hadn’t really been three blocks off campus. Shuley was shocked, “I was like, dang, these student-athletes aren’t getting the same experience I had growing up in Austin.”
Many Texas student-athletes come from out of state or outside of the Austin area. He wanted to help bridge the gap.
“If you’re not from here, you don’t know a lot of these cool spots,” he explained. “My thought was, ‘How can we use NIL to tap into some of these great Austin brands and show it’s a win-win where current students are promoting these great Austin things, and then these Austin things are getting new eyeballs on them while letting these student-athletes experience the community?”
Student-athletes have enjoyed seeing the city and experiencing new things like learning how to golf at Butler Pitch and Putt and attending Austin FC games.
“The businesses have become invested in them,” he said. “To me, it feels like the biggest win of anything that we can do that and that’s honestly really the goal.”
Helping student-athletes meet community leaders is another big aspect collectives help with. It’s about facilitating conversations and relationships that can last after their time on the field is over.
“It’s cool to watch these student-athletes connect with these businesses, watch the business owners talk to them and be excited about talking to them and vice versa.”
Student-athletes have even reached out to Shuley looking to be connected to leaders in the community. Clark Field is proud to facilitate those conversations.
“One of the best things I had was one of the student-athletes said, ‘My goals for NIL are to meet powerful business leaders in the community.’ That was what they wanted because they’re trying to figure out what’s next after sports.”
“I set them up with three CEOs and they had some great lunches and are trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. I think that’s the part that gets forgotten. A lot of these student-athletes aren’t going to play pro. So, let’s figure out how we can help them make money off of their name, image and likeness while they’re in school – while they have this moment of celebrity. That way it sets them up for the future.”
Keeping Athletes Compliant
The NIL landscape is evolving every day.
“We’re building the airplane while we’re flying it,” Shuley said.
Keeping student-athletes compliant is a crucial component in the NIL era and Clark Field Collective has leaned on Opendorse for operational support.
“Compliance gets copied on everything we do,” he explained. “It’s all very trackable. If anyone ever asks questions, I can throw them the keys and say, ‘Here you go, you can watch [the deal] from start to finish. This is what happened in that deal.
“It’s also allowed me to scale faster than I could have anywhere else because when I started this, I didn’t have accounting. I didn’t have the ability to send 1099s to people and pay people and get all of these various pieces there. So, working with Opendorse enabled me to start the next day once I figured out how to use the platform. It isn’t a big ramp up and once that’s going, it’s pretty user-friendly and easy to use. For me, it was a game changer and allowed this thing to get going faster than it could have any other way.”