A group consisting of University of Texas donors, former athletes, and sports marketer Nick Shuley announced the launch of an eight-figure NIL program, Clark Field Collective, on Wednesday.
The collective has secured an initial commitment of $10 million for Texas NIL (name, image and likeness) activities, “with the ultimate goal of having the largest dedicated fund in the country for college athletes.”
Unaffiliated with the university, the collective has been created in order to assist the school’s varsity athletes in cultivating and facilitating NIL opportunities in conjunction with businesses, donors and fans.
“It is the game-changer,” Shuley told ON3’s Eric Prisbell. “This is the program that Texas deserves, and if we’re going to do something at the University of Texas, it needs to be done right.”
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Shuley, a veteran marketer who has run successful marketing efforts for names suchlike Bo Jackson and Lance Armstrong, will serve as the CEO with a Board of Directors composed of business leaders and former athletes associated with the university, including former Texas basketball player and nine-year NBA veteran TJ Ford.
“The best University in the country deserves an NIL program to match,” Ford said. “With Austin now home to some of the biggest businesses in the world, we knew there was an easy way to connect the business community to athletes while creating something that not only facilitates opportunity, but also educates and helps prepare them for life after sports.”
Shuley told ON3 that the collective hopes to be a “one-stop fund” to be spread across all sports for NIL activities, such as endorsements, autographs and appearances.
There is expected to be both a broad executive board and sport-specific boards. Ford, for example, will serve as a basketball board member.
“This plan will help ensure that all sports will have focused boards, leaders, and representatives to ensure their individual success in the NIL space,” said Shuley. “Businesses, donors, and fans can work with their sport/athlete of choice by executing proper legal NIL contracts.”
Expected to be a format easily copied by other schools with deep pockets, Texas finds itself in a powerful position with such a wide array of alumni support.
“We have a unique setup here at Texas where we have the biggest and best and most prominent donors, in my opinion,” Shuley told ON3. “That definitely sets us apart from other universities. There is no reason we shouldn’t line all that up so everyone benefits. . . . There are so many opportunities to work with some of the best brands just in our backyard.”
The news of this new collective comes shortly after Texas Athletics announced it would begin paying eligible student-athletes $5,980 per year, the legally established maximum after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Alston v. NCAA case. This is something expected to be adopted by the majority (if not all) schools in Power Five Conferences, but it’s clear schools with financial advantages could begin to further distance themselves from the pack in terms of recruiting. With the announcement of the Clark Field Collective, Texas continues to push the pace in that regard.
“This setup will ensure access to participation for all who are interested in this important opportunity,” added Shuley.
“The generosity and savviness of our donors has allowed us to launch with real financial backing. Through a multi-tiered approach beginning with the donors, followed by major brand participation and ultimately brand building, we will create something that allows for stability, sustainability and growth over the years at Texas.”