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NIL and Oklahoma State - Where is it Two Weeks In?

July 16, 2021

STILLWATER – The last two days the Oklahoma State athletic department got a refresher or an advanced course on NIL. Name-Image-Likeness is running as rampant as a wild fire since the ignition switch in the form of laws first passed in six states flipped on July 1. There was also the NCAA blessing that was basically forced on the governing organization for most of college athletics. At least for now the NCAA is still in that role as this summer has brought their participation in the current form to question. That is another story.

Kevin Klintworth is the senior associate athletic director that along with two other senior associate athletic directors Kevin Fite (compliance) and Brandon Myers (legal affairs) have managed the start of NIL at Oklahoma State and in the Cowboys athletic department.

Oklahoma State Athletics
Kevin Klintworth of Oklahoma State Athletics

One of my first questions to Klintworth after hearing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby talk about it and calmly answer questions, even about such possible transgressions as the Miami, Fla. booster Dan Lambert wanting to pay all Hurricanes scholarship football players $500 a month to endorse his MMA gym. He said he also wants better performance on the football field. That sounds like pay for play not marketing 101.

At Oklahoma State it has been much more normal like wrestler A.J. Ferrari selling t-shirts and football players doing Cameo appearances. Klintworth does think it will settle down, in fact you can hear in his voice he is cheering for it to settle down.

“I think you are right and it will normalize,” Klintworth told me in Arlington at the Big 12 Football Media Days. “Remember when we introduced cost of attendance across the country it was going to be the end of the world (for collegiate sports), and now it almost never comes up. Obviously, NIL is more public profile, more public facing. I haven’t followed it lately having been here for a couple of days, but we had 10-12 athletes with deals almost immediately. The hard part and an issue that is sort of popping up everywhere from the people I talked to today is the use of the school brands, colors, logos, game action (photos), and brands. It is really something that we (Oklahoma State) won’t get our hands around until everybody is back on campus. We actually had Jim Cavale (CEO of INFLCR) in Stillwater talking to our creatives, senior staff, coaches, and athletes.”

Him Cavale is the CEO of INFLCR.

INFLCR is the company that Oklahoma State and many other schools have retained to consult and advise on strategies for NIL. There are several companies in that business, but INFLCR is one of the leaders.

Yes, Cavale was in Stillwater and the quick 24-hour, two day trip was a wealth of information, but this whole process is in need of way more than a quick trip.

“I don’t know much about it,” Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders said in Arlington. “I’m okay with making some money on the side, but I’m not going to let it interfere with the real reason I’m here to play football and win games.”

“It will be really nice to see where we are this time next year with NIL,” added Klintworth from the administrative side where you worry about rules, improprieties and worst of all, laws. “I don’t think it will be traumatic, but I do think it may be the biggest change ever in collegiate athletics.”

I’ve been thinking what we will likely end up with collegiate athletes and NIL is kind of an Olympic model where athletes are still amateur in spirit but get endorsements and sponsorships that allow them to stay that way. You have to remember the big athletes, such as the top level track and field and gymnastics athletes are raking in appearance money and that is the same as professionalism. A perfect example are the basketball playing twins from Fresno State, Haley and Hanna Cavinder, as they are raking in an estimated $3-million in combined endorsements. They have more than three million followers across their various social media platforms.

“I think it will be more extensive,” Klintworth said of comparing NIL to the Olympic model. “A lot of people have their own version and want to make their own imprint on it. It is just convoluted in that everybody has their own take on it. There are extremes like what has happened at Miami, I think we can refer to that. Then there are others that are making deals for a couple of meals a week, which will impact more people. It is going to impact the star athletes, but it is also going to be good for people that are good at social media. Those can be mutually exclusive and can be dictated by a lot of different things as to who cashes in on what. I think every school is positioning that this is the place to be for NIL and that they are all over it.”

He told me that it was good to be around some other Big 12 athletic department staffers and to talk to the folks at the Big 12 level because they are all trading information and are all trying to help each other. Klintworth said he was surprised to hear what some of the others thought and where they were placing his department among other schools and NIL.

“We keep hearing that we (Oklahoma State) are ahead of the game and I’m like us? I’ve been at every one of the meetings and I feel like we are hanging on for dear life,” Klintworth said being honest. “It is a bumpy start and I think people that say it is smooth are kidding themselves. This is all new. It is the first time, but this time next year I agree with you. I think the rough edges will be smoothed out.”

I still want somebody to get down to Miami and crash that deal. That is the kind of NIL situation that makes me the most upset. Cheating is what that is.

Discussion from...

NIL and Oklahoma State - Where is it Two Weeks In?

1,397 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by CaliforniaCowboy
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I see it as another "rich get richer" separation situation for college programs. If there's much more of a business tied booster and media tied alignment at a school (Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, OU and generally a much larger market and/or fan base school situation), then more money will follow or fall to those student/athletes. So it's again, another cog in dividing the rich schools from the average or less fortunate. It may allow a few new, well placed, large/rich alum based schools to really enter (or re-enter faster back) into the blueblood pack a bit more.....say a UCLA, Miami, Southern Cal, Houston, Tennessee or Cincinnati. But mostly, those that have far more support from large fan bases already and thus from a business marketing standpoint will simply have another recruiting and retention related boost/advantage.
Likely not a wonderful deal for the Iowa State/K-State/Oklahoma State's of the world. But also not a totally new world as OU and Texas are the likely greatest Big XII profiteers off this deal.....and they had substantial/virtually overwhelming $ wise and fan base wise advantages already. The Baylor and TCU affects will be the harder ones to forsee as regards the Big XII and OSU impacts IMO. Are their enough marketing advantages to Waco and Ft. Worth associated with those programs to markedly change those programs within the Big XII pack. Or are the UT, A&M (and even OU) booster loyalties in the DFW area already pretty set, stable and thus, likely largely unaffected/unmoved by NIL. My hope and expectation/guess would be the latter. If I were a Tulsa U. (or SMU) fan, I would be hoping there's just a silver lining for any larger population location tied school. But I doubt it's that simple. OU already dominates (and OSU to a lesser degree) the Tulsa and OKC markets.
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I would not be so quick to rule out the Baylor's and TCU's based on fan base.

That very article highlights 2 female athletes from Fresno State (of all places), making millions from ONE ENDORSEMENT. (not necessarily even a booster)

if you have a small fan base, but have a huge product marketing reach, then that could also be a factor from some programs. I have no idea how successful the alumni at BU and TCU may or may not be.

another factor could be social media followings, which do not always equate to a fan base.

I will say that one year from now will not be the "settling down", but will be the launching pad for the turbulence to follow.

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