Rabalais: Brave new world of NIL is changing the landscape for student-athletes and support-seeking companies | LSU


At a quick glance, it appears Thursday’s enactment of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rules and laws across the country is opening up a vast territory in the Far West.

A better frontier-type description might be that of a gold rush with prospectors – student-athletes, companies, and organizations that bring the two together – rushing to potentially make a fortune. Or at least some pocket money previously banned by the NCAA.

Some varsity athletes have already started leveraging their brands. LSU offensive lineman Kardell Thomas hung his virtual shingle so to speak Monday on Twitter and Instagram, inviting “collaborations and partnerships interested in using my name, picture or picture (NIL).” Expect chord announcements starting Thursday across the university landscape.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign a bill on Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes to enjoy their name, image and likeness. The measure, which has received the backing of LSU officials and has passed through the Legislature like Kayshon Boutte operating a postal route, will make Louisiana the 23rd state with such a law.

If the landscape looks like it’s been turned upside down from the outside, imagine being a student-athlete on the inside trying to walk through it. A Baton Rouge company called MatchPoint (MatchPointConnection.com) has established itself as an intermediary between people and businesses looking to grow their brands together.

Started by Henry Hays, who already had his own local sales consulting firm, MatchPoint has built a team that includes former Dunham School boys’ basketball coach Jonathan Pixley and longtime host of the Baton Rouge Charles Hanagriff radio show.

Hanagriff, who stepped down from his popular daily lunchtime radio show on WNXX-FM 104.5 in May to seize the new opportunity, is the company’s director of media relations. We met for lunch on Wednesday at a restaurant right next to the LSU campus, exactly the kind of place you might imagine will be looking for sponsorship deals with LSU student-athletes in the near future.

Hanagriff pulls out his phone and quickly accesses the MatchPoint app, which looks a bit like an app for a dating service. It takes a person’s tastes and preferences – whether an athlete, musician, social media influencer, or anyone else – and brings up businesses and entities for which they are. is likely to be a good support in terms of product, service or taste. Through the app, the person and the business can strike a deal – say for 10 social media posts for $ 25 per post. MatchPoint collects the fee for the person making the endorsement (at their own expense, of course).

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“LSU educates its athletes but does not act as an agent,” Hanagriff said. ” We neither. We are the conduit. We provide full reports to schools so they know what brands (student-athletes) represent.

The benefit for both parties is the elimination of the potentially dizzying number of calls and connections that would otherwise have to be made.

“Say you’re a top athlete at LSU who wants to endorse a product,” said Hanagriff, who continues to keep his hand on the local radio scene with regular appearances on the former partner’s Gametime night show. Jimmy Ott. “Where do you start? Do you start by calling (founder of Raising Canes) Todd Graves? It is not realistic. This allows you to be on your phone to play matches. These children are on the phone 27 hours a day.

MatchPoint is certainly not alone. There are other companies that do the same through an app portal, like Denver-based Icon Source. And many top athletes are expected to sign with big talent agencies like CAA and IMG.

There are LSU athletes who will earn NIL bargains, like All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. or Tigers gymnast Olivia Dunne, who believe he or she has the biggest following on social media or not. all current LSU athletes. Hanagriff refers to them as the top 3%. MatchPoint will work to close the big deals with the big names, but also with student-athletes who are only looking for a few hundred dollars for an appearance at an event or a private camp.

“It’s something these kids have won,” he said. “Every person in the country has the rights to their name, image and image, with the exception of university athletes. This is fundamentally wrong and the courts have accepted it.

“They said paying the athletes would destroy the Olympics. No, it improved it. Was it strange at first to see professional basketball players at the Olympics? Yes. But we quickly warmed up there. Will it be weird to see a varsity athlete endorse a brand on social media or on TV? Yes, but we will adapt. That’s not to say we won’t have LSU football in the fall. It’s giving these kids a chance to make money with something they’ve won.


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