COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Name, image, and likeness is adding a layer of complexity to the college sports landscape, but if it is utilized properly, it can also be a big benefit to programs. Collectives like, “The Foundation” are spearheading efforts to maximize NIL in Columbus.
The Foundation is regarded as a top-10 collective, ranking 7th in On3’s Top 20 Most Ambitious NIL Collectives rankings.
“We can tell them [incoming recruits] what we’ve done with the current student-athletes, we can talk to them about Ohio State, we can talk to them about the business community. Get them excited about being a Buckeye,” The Foundation Co-Founder and Board Member Brian Schottenstein said.
Schottenstein, along with former National Championship quarterback Cardale Jones, launched the collective in March of 2021 with a focus on Ohio State football and men’s basketball.
In ten short months, the collective has signed over 40 student-athletes including five early enrollees to the Buckeye football team.
“I’m glad I started this when I did to help keep things afloat but now that Ohio State just endorsed us about a month ago, I think it’s really just the beginning,” Schottenstein said.
The five new signees include Jelani Thurman (TE), Carnell Tate (WR), Malik Hartford (DB), Jermaine Mathews Jr. (DB), and Noah Rogers (WR)—who are all four-star athletes.
“The Foundation is a dream come true,” Thurman, who also intends to play basketball at Ohio State, said.
It’s a great opportunity to give back to the kids, put my face out there, and show who I really am.”
The Foundation’s mission is to “pay Ohio State Football and Basketball student-athletes as they use their name, image, and likeness to help promote worthy charitable causes and make positive contributions to our community.”
The largest deal an Ohio State student-athlete has inked was through The Foundation with DSW. C.J. Stroud and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba greeted fans and took pictures at the Polaris location in December.
“You never know what someone is going through or what they might need, so you can just help another individual, in that way I feel NIL is very important,” Rogers said.
Schottenstein believes NIL can also impact roster management and add an incentive for players to return instead of hitting the transfer portal.
“I think it's very unlikely you are going to transfer because you have more opportunities in Columbus, OH than you do any other city or state for NIL,” Schottenstein said. “It’s not only helping out the players coming in once they get here, but it’s also keeping the players that here, we try to help as much as we can.”
Schottenstein said businesses inquire about marketing deals with the players who see significant playing time, however, there is a balance and priority to spread the wealth within the collective. He said the collective accepts donations that will be used toward the up-and-coming players.
"I appreciate all the fans and support. It’s not easy, it’s become a full-time job and it’s not only costing me a lot of money but a lot of time,” Schottenstein said. “I appreciate our board. It’s been a big success for our first year and hopefully, it’ll become even better in the future.”