Learfield, the specialist US college sports agency, has entered into a strategic partnership with Opendorse, the athlete marketing platform.
The deal, announced yesterday (April 27), entails the two working together to “streamline access to name, image, and likeness [NIL] opportunities for student-athletes” as they work with their schools’ corporate brand sponsors.
Opendorse will act as Learfield’s NIL marketplace provider and will provide a free, school-specific marketplace to each university.
Learfield will promote Opendorse to both local and national brand partners as its preferred marketplace.
The Learfield Allied program, launched in late 2021, “facilitates the connection between brands, student-athletes, and universities”, and aims to allow brands to utilize intellectual property in student-athlete advertising campaigns.
The deal aims to “increase the number of opportunities for student-athletes interested in NIL deals”, both parties have said.
As of July last year, student-athletes in the US can earn monies for their NIL arrangements, although they are still not eligible to be paid by their colleges for actual appearances and their on-field prowess.
Last year’s change in US law came as a result of a lengthy legal dispute between student-athlete groups across the US and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
While the rules have now been changed, the rolling out of these new regulations across the different US states is still taking place.
Cole Gahagan, Learfield’s chief executive, said: “We are proud to partner with Opendorse to both widen the funnel of demand for NIL deals, and provide a streamlined solution for participating brands.”
The main agency was rebranded from Learfield IMG College last July, having been formed by the 2018 merger of Learfield and IMG College, the college sports arm of the international agency.
Blake Lawrence, chief executive at Opendorse, added: “Today’s announcement ushers NIL forward with increased opportunity and support for college athletes everywhere … This new collaboration brings the necessary players together to truly impact athletes through greater visibility and ease of use when identifying new NIL opportunities.”
Last August, Opendorse partnered with the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), the Canada-based organization founded by Serbian player Novak Djokovic and Canadian Vasek Pospisil in 2020.
Through the strategic partnership, PTPA members have access to Opendorse’s range of business development tools including Opendorse Ready, Opendorse Social, and Opendorse Deals.
The platform already has deals in place with North American ice hockey’s NHL, the National Football League Players Association, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
Last week, NBC Sports, the sports division of the major US national network, launched NBC Sports Athlete Direct, a platform that aims to link college athletes with potential advertisers through a marketplace, enabling further monetization of those individuals’ names, images, and likeness.
The platform will initially be available to student-athletes at the Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and Temple colleges and universities.
Student-athletes who opt-in will be “presented with name, image, and likeness [NIL] opportunities from advertisers that include monetizing their social media followings.”
The broadcaster will also work with the colleges to “create content for student-athletes focused on NIL best practices”, it has said.