Name Image and Likeness – Real Perspective
By definition, name, image and likeness is a legal concept referring to an individual’s ‘right to publicize’ and their ability to take advantage of anything that identifies them, including the possibility of being engage in third party sponsorships and endorsements. Basically, student athletes can now earn money based on their celebrity if applicable.
There have been hundreds of thousands of debates on this topic both locally and of course nationally and although I can certainly see some of the negatives that come with allowing varsity athletes to win. money based on their likeness, I see that not only as a good thing for the NCAA, but it’s also the right thing, the right thing.
At KFKA, we have experienced the NIL world on a fairly small scale, an experience that I am happy to accompany throughout the world.
When the NIL concept was ruled legal by the Supreme Court, we quickly determined that it would be a great network for the radio station to explore. The Hull Show already features student athletes on the program on a regular basis, but we wanted to develop and establish a network that would not only excite potential advertisers, but offer unique programming elements that would entertain listeners and subscribers to the station.
Our first athlete to sign with KFKA was beloved CSU Ram defensive lineman Ellison Hubbard. With both parties being new to the uncharted waters of the NIL, we went through the start-up process with a fine tooth comb and made sure to take all legal steps with Colorado state compliance. Ellison being the solid guy that he is, made the process extremely easy and we got the nod to move forward with compliance. Basically we wanted to do an hour-long radio show that would be centered around him, digging deeper into the X’s and O’s of football, discussing the ups and downs that come with the season and all the interesting NCAA / duo topics. sports that have arisen along the way.
So we all agreed that our first NIL deal would be a gamer-themed radio show, not necessarily different from a college coaches show, but perhaps a bit more sporadic and improvised. But how would the station benefit from it? How would the player benefit from it? In addition to attracting fans of the CSU Rams to the station and the show, we would need financially to find a sponsor for the work, time and effort required to produce a weekly radio show of an hour is worth it. Our plan was to pay Ellison 50% of everything we bring to KFKA based on his name, image and likeness. But we still had work to do. We would need a sponsor. Much like the “Ford Tough Coach’s Show” or the “Peak Kia pre-game show”, we would need a nominated sponsor for the Ellison Hubbard Show. Ellison suggested that we call her favorite pizza place in Fort Collins, Krazy Karl’s Pizza. Our sales team contacted, set a meeting, and off we went.
Ellison, who is considering a career in media after football, was more than willing to do anything in his power to make this first NIL venture a success. Ellison and I showed up to the meeting with the owners of Krazy Karl’s and it was one of the easiest sales calls I’ve ever been on. Ellison was dressed to perfection and was professional and genuine. Suffice it to say, the great folks at Krazy Karl’s loved the idea and the very first NCAA player-focused radio show on KFKA has taken off. The Ellison Hubbard show presented by Krazy Karl’s Pizza was a success and also provided a real world experience for Ellison by helping to produce a radio show and dealing with the business side of the media world. He went on a sales call, filled out the paperwork to be able to get paid, reviewed his first independent contractor contract, checked with his sponsor to make sure he was satisfied, and of course , provided an excellent preview of his radio show each week.
Things on the football side did not go as planned for Ellison as he entered the transfer portal a few weeks after the start of the season. He didn’t seem to get along with the current coaching staff and his playing time was dwindling. As we now know, it’s safe to say that there were several people around the program who didn’t click along with head coach Steve Addazio and his staff. Fast forward and CSU has since left Addazio and hired a new coach and staff.
Overall it was a huge success for the station, the player and the sponsor. We continued the football part of the show with an absolute stallion and potential future NFL player Scott Patchan and he did what it took to keep the sponsor happy with the change. Now switching to basketball, KFKA kicked off the David Roddy Show presented by Krazy Karl’s Pizza, another wonderful program that listeners and fans love.
We have several athletes on the station, both from CSU and UNC in Greeley, endorsing their favorite businesses and supporters in the area. We worked with some great young people in the process; Hubbard, Patchan, Roddy, Dylan McCaffrey, Bodie Hume, Conner Martin and Daylen Kountz. They all did everything they were asked to do and behaved in a professional manner and were enthusiastic about the station and the sponsors.
I know we’re not talking millions of dollars with our deals, and I know northern Colorado isn’t Alabama, but from what we’ve seen locally it’s been very productive. I’ve been for the NIL set up for years now, but after working in the world of varsity athlete sponsorship deals I’m even more passionate about it. Will there be more regulation and more scrutiny as we grow with this process? No question. It’s not yet a perfect setup, but it’s a start.
The NCAA is a business. Stop pretending they’re amateur athletes. The stadiums are filled with screaming fans on Saturday as well as Sunday who pay generously to be there, to buy the teams’ equipment, to donate to the program, and more.
No one is saying the school should share their money with the players. But allowing them the experiment that Ellison Hubbard had USED was illegal in the eyes of the NCAA. Think about it for a moment. The idea of a young man dressing up meets a potential sponsor and convinces him to sponsor his radio show (an industry he wants to be in when he’s done with football) and works to give fans a glimpse college football from a player’s perspective while being paid was in fact illegal.
Now players like Ellison can explore more options outside of sports. Of course, they MUST follow their school and chosen sports first and foremost, something we plan on well before signing anyone. But in their little free time, if they want to and can earn a sponsor or two, then why not let them win? Earn Money, Build Your Brand, and Learn! It shouldn’t be out of the reach of a young man or woman just because they’re playing sport for an NCAA program. University is about learning, isn’t it? How better to learn and contribute to society than being responsible to several companies and entities by fulfilling the requirements of their sponsors or third parties?
The real-life experience for a college football player may seem like a wild concept, but in the end the NCAA will be producing many more well-rounded, business-oriented young men and women than ever before.