This summer, the NCAA made a game-changing move, equipping college athletes with the ability to earn money from their name, image, or likeness — known in the sports biz as NIL. Now, a new Austin-based startup seeks to help University of Texas athletes score NIL opportunities.
UT donors and former UT athletes, along with sports and entertainment marketer Nick Shuley, have teamed up to launch the Clark Field Collective. So far, the collective has secured $10 million in pledges to aid UT athletes in their quest to capitalize on NIL opportunities. The new business is not affiliated with UT.
Ultimately, the Clark Field Collective envisions overseeing the country’s largest NIL fund.
“Our goal is to create something that becomes both the gold standard in the field and a one-stop fund to be disseminated amongst all sports for NIL activities activated through endorsements, autographs, appearances, and more,” Shuley says in a December 1 news release.
Shuley, whose marketing clients have included the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Lollapalooza music festival, is CEO of the collective. In short, the collective will be a marketing matchmaker between businesses and UT athletes.
“The University of Texas at Austin maintains the largest, wealthiest alumni donor base in the entire country,” Shuley says. “It’s time a network like this existed to support our college athletes. The collective is being established to make that happen.”
Among those joining Shuley in the effort are former Longhorn and NBA player TJ Ford, who is a basketball board member for the collective; former Longhorn and just-retired NFL player Kenny Vaccaro, a football board member for the collective; and former Longhorn Juliann Johnson, a volleyball board member of the collective.
“Texas is always one of the highest-grossing athletic programs in the NCAA, and we intend to ensure that all student athletes at Texas have a way of participating in these immense financial opportunities,” Vaccaro says.
The collective will be governed by an executive board comprising alumni, donors, and business leaders. Smaller boards are being organized to represent each UT sport.
By the way, the collective is named after UT’s Clark Field, which served as the home venue for the Longhorn baseball team from 1928 to 1974. The name lives on, though, as UT’s Caven Lacrosse and Sports Center at Clark Field hosts recreational activities like lacrosse, soccer, and basketball.