Horizon League Levels Up Student-Athlete Support with NIL Resources

The Horizon League has partnered with Opendorse to provide Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) technology and services for their student-athletes at all its member schools.

Most college athletic conferences have served in an advisory role regarding Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). As several prominent leaders push for federal NIL legislation as they navigate changing NIL rules by state, most have chosen to provide their members with autonomy to determine their own policies, including NIL companies that can support their own on-campus efforts. However, the Horizon League has taken an innovative approach by making Opendorse NIL resources available for its member schools.

In her second year as Commissioner of the Horizon League, Julie Roe Lach is the architect of the revolutionary partnership.

“This groundbreaking partnership with Opendorse continues to showcase the Horizon League’s commitment to innovation within college athletics,” Roe Lach said. “We remain committed to every aspect of the student-athlete experience, and this will allow our student-athletes an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on their name, image and likeness while providing them in-depth information on brand building and financial literacy.”   

The partnership made the Horizon League the first intercollegiate athletics conference to have a conference-wide NIL marketplace exclusively for League student-athletes. The relationship also provides institutions with access to Opendorse’s NIL products, including a school-specific marketplace for each individual institution and educational content. 

“This partnership immediately positioned the Horizon League as an NIL leader at the conference level,” said Opendorse Co-Founder and CEO Blake Lawrence. “Now in the second year of NIL, it will become even more vital for schools and conferences to engage their local markets to support student-athletes. The conference-wide marketplace and access to school-specific marketplaces does just that. I’m proud that Opendorse can empower the Horizon League and its student-athletes to better understand and maximize the opportunities that NIL brings.”

The agreement continues the Horizon League’s current partnership with Opendorse’s content solution and expands the relationship to include all Opendorse resources including compliance, education, insights and the marketplace. For student-athletes seeking tools and information on how to get an NIL deal, it’s never been easier.

The League has a working group of coaches and administrator guiding its NIL approach and operations. The support from every Horizon League school has been remarkable. And since the conference does not sponsor football, the league-wide investment in NIL resources is even more important. 

“It’s great to see the entire Horizon League be unified in helping our student-athletes maximize their potential with Name, Image, and Likeness,” said Youngstown State Men’s Basketball Head Coach and member of the NIL Advisory Group Jerrod Calhoun. “YSU has done a tremendous job of really educating all of the student-athletes and all of the coaches from all of the different sports. I think everybody has a clear understanding and Opendorse is the gold standard for NIL deals. With what’s going on with the landscape of college athletics, to hire the best is a major statement by our athletic department and the League.”

Most importantly, 3,000 Horizon League student-athletes recognize the opportunity.

“As a Wright State and Horizon League student-athlete, I am thrilled the League has partnered with Opendorse,” said Horizon League Council and NCAA Division I SAAC Representative Lainey Stephenson. “Opendorse is an amazing platform with an unlimited amount of opportunities for all of us student-athletes. It is easy to use and allows us to promote and grow our name, image, and brand.”

The Horizon League’s unity is equally evident with its “#OneHL group” that provides a voice for the league, its members, and student-athletes. It’s built on the fact that while schools and athletes compete against each other on the field of play, they can create meaningful and impactful change by working together in other ways. The #OneHL group is a subset of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) that seeks to celebrate unity, inclusion and bring meaningful change in the community. 

Whether it’s NIL or speaking for social change, it always goes back to education for the Horizon League. Its primary focus is on adding value to the educational experience through student-athlete well-being, integrity, respect, and stewardship. It’s about creating a holistic experience for student-athletes. 

Steve Waterfield, Oakland director of athletics and member of the Horizon League NIL Advisory Group, is proud of the league’s collective efforts.

“I am proud to be part of a League that focuses on a holistic student-athlete experience, and the Opendorse partnership aligns with this focus.”



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