AUSTIN (KXAN) — As fans and players gear up for the big Texas-Oklahoma University game this weekend, so are small businesses, in a new way.
So far, the University of Texas at Austin’s new directory to link companies with athletes has more than 250 students who are interested in getting paid to promote companies, and the athletics department says it’s growing daily.
Texas Athletics launched Leverage Lineup as a “hub” for companies to be able to contact student-athletes who are interested in a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) partnership.
Longhorn placekicker Cameron Dicker signed a deal with The Roof Joker, a contractor in Cedar Park.
“Cameron was one of my first choices, because I had met him before and just really liked his personality; he was goofy, he was funny, and that’s kind of our company culture,” said chief operating officer Josh Hadden.
Hadden says they filmed seven commercials, which were released online.
He says the partnership is yielding a lot of views online and phone calls to his operation, and this weekend’s Oklahoma University game may also help.
“We do try to boost posts, more leading up to games,” Hadden said. “Certainly if Dicker kicks the game-winning field goal again against OU like he did in 2018, we will probably pump some money into… those videos.”
He says it’s a win-win deal he plans to replicate with other student-athletes — the next one being from Texas A&M.
The Last Stand Hats has also been expanding its deals. Owner Mike Murphy was among the first to make an NIL deal when the Texas law first went into effect in July.
“DeMarvion Overshown, Agent 0, signed with us, along with Josh Thompson and BJ Foster,” Murphy recalled.
Murphy says they create unique designs for each player, creating their own “brand,” and this weekend is also part of their advertising strategy.
“Tomorrow, we’ll actually drop a few designs that are on-theme with our players’ brands,” he explained. “If Texas wins, maybe we’ll have another design coming out with a certain type of hat that is on some of our players.”
Murphy says they see a bump in sales when their student-athletes post their branded merchandise on social media.
He now has deals with 29 students in not just football, but basketball, baseball and softball.
“If this is a way that they can have something that, I don’t know, they can either lean on or that they can do outside of just having to go get a job right out of college, maybe they can build their brand into something else,” Murphy said.
He says the field is becoming competitive as more companies throw their hats in the field.
Along with his deal with the Last Stand Hats, Overshown and Covert Chevy of Hutto car dealership struck a NIL deal on Thursday.
Still, Murphy and Hadden say in the end, it’s all about the students.
“As we tell them, ‘Don’t think you need to do something over the top while you’re playing, because you need merch sales, that’s not what this is about. This is about people supporting you, while you’re in school,'” said Murphy.
“I told Cameron from the beginning, I hope he gets some good exposure off of this and that other people hire him and… he’s able to do more commercials,” said Hadden. He adds even if he didn’t see a bump in sales, he’d still strike NIL deals.
The deals are how Overshown was able to buy his mom a car.
General manager Mark Gill told KXAN News he and Overshown attended the same high school outside of Tyler, and in September, Gill helped Overshown buy his mom a car.
“My mom’s a crier, so she definitely cried, you know,” Overshown said during a press conference a few days later. “That’s how I was raised: Take care of momma, no matter what, I’m gonna take care of my momma.”
Overshown credited his NIL partnerships for that purchase and more.
“NIL is definitely big. I’m able to send money home, you know, take care of mom, take care of the fam,” he said.
While student athletes in Texas can be compensated to promote a business’ product or service, there are some restrictions, including:
- The business contract can’t conflict with a team contract — for example, using any of UT’s trademarks.
- Students also cannot endorse alcohol or tobacco products, casino gambling, sports wagering, or sexually oriented businesses.