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Weiberg Talks Steps Back to Normalcy and How OSU is Surging and Doing it Right with NIL

June 16, 2022
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STILLWATER – This week has been kind of a landmark week at Oklahoma State for athletics. I’m not talking about camp week and the fact that some social media Instagram sensation nicknamed “Baby Gronk” showed up at Oklahoma State football youth camp or that 500 young wrestlers will be attending John Smith’s wrestling camp. No, this was landmark in that Oklahoma State athletics director Chad Weiberg had his first all staff meeting since taking over in his position last summer. Yes, the first time to have all the department staff and coaches in the same room. It was a good opportunity to not just look ahead, do some planning, but also celebrate an athletics year that includes another Bedlam Series victory, eighth in nine years. It also is worth celebrating another anticipated top 25 finish in the Learfield Director’s Cup.

Pat Kinnison - Chief Photographer
In school year 2021-22 Pistol Pete satyed on the road to success most of the time.

“We just actually finished having an all staff meeting this morning,” Weiberg told me on Tuesday. “It’s the first we’ve had. We used to have them on a regular basis, but this is the first we’ve had since COVID winding down. The last one we did was in the late fall of 2019. We had one scheduled in March of 2020 that got cancelled because of the COVID outbreak and we changed everything to Zoom. It was great to get everybody back in the same room and that is what we spent some time doing was looking back a little bit over the last year to 18 months and all the things we’ve been through … We kind of celebrated how we responded to all of those, but also the athletic success that our student-athletes had in the face of all those obstacles. Celebrated everyone involved in all of that (success) coaching staffs, support staffs, and the rest of the athletic department that helped make that happen.”

Weiberg and his staff have kept sports performance high even in the wake of COVID, the increase of the transfer portal, and the emergence of NIL (name-image-likeness) where many schools have armed themselves with bankrolls and used them like fishing lures to bring in top recruits and targeted transfers in the portal.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Bowlsby has continued to be outspoken on NIL misuse.

“It was very specifically stated that this was not supposed to be an inducement for initial enrollment or transfer,” outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said on Tuesday on Sirius-XM’s Big 12 This Morning. “It is obvious that many institutions, not all, but many, a troubling number have used it exactly as an inducement. Boosters have become directly involved in the recruitment of student-athletes. It was never envisioned under anyone’s model (of NIL) that boosters would be directly involved in the recruiting of student-athletes.”

I know there have been denials but many schools, some prominent, have been accused of tampering with recruiting or with the transfer process through NIL.

“We have completely lost control of the recruiting environment,” Bowlsby added. “Coaches hate it. There are lots of intermediaries involved, and I just think there will be activity to reign that in and put that back in a box. That is not to say that student-athletes aren’t entitled to make money off their name-image-and likeness. I don’t see it is sustainable in its’ current form.”

Neither do a large number of other conference commissioners, school presidents, and athletic directors. In the SEC where the most prominent of exchanges of misuse of NIL took place between football head coaches Nick Saban at Alabama and Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M, the league commissioner Greg Sankey, maybe the most powerful man in college athletics came out looking for changes in NIL.

Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Greg Sankey wants NIL violators reigned in.

“We're not seeing name image and likeness activity — we're seeing just straight payments,” Sankey said in an interview in late May. “And I think it's important that we recenter ourselves on what's supposed to be happening here and the desire to keep that activity out of recruitment. Structure it for it to benefit young people economically, but to do so in a healthy way.”

Oklahoma State is ahead of the game there. This week schools met in a summit on name-image-and-likeness. Oklahoma State athletics was represented by several student-athletes and administrators and from the consultants the school brought in to help advise student-athletes to the two collectives that have been formed by Oklahoma State alumni and boosters that earned OSU a place as one of six finalists as the NIL School of the Year.

Pokes with a Purpose
This collective launched this month (June).

Unbridled is a for profit collective that was jumped in funding by Joe Eastin. Pokes with a Purpose is a non profit 501c3 collective that is administered by Steve and Tracy Riebert. Joe Eastin is also involved with the board of directors for Pokes with a Purpose and other board members include former football players Brandon Weeden and Kenyatta Wright along with former director of media relations Steve Buzzard and notable alumni like Ed Raschen, Steve Reibert, Gina Noble, and Claudia Humphreys.

It is a big piece to the future of Oklahoma State athletics and Weiberg is proud of how it is being done right in the face of all the other NIL activity out there.

“This year a lot of it was playing defense to all of these things that were popping up, but I feel the last couple of months we’ve got our feet under us and are able to start playing some offense to some of these issues,” Weiberg told me of how he is feeling about the current landscape. “You mentioned Unbridled and Pokes with a Purpose and getting those off the ground. I appreciate our supporters that have been proactive in helping us with name-image-and-likeness. Our staff has worked with them to make sure it is down the right way, with the right education, and passed along so it is done the OSU way.”

Oklahoma State is in a good place. A short break for a pat on the back is needed, but then it’s time to get back to work.

 
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