Ds Scholarship

The first player-led scholarship funded through NIL may begin trend

In July of 2021, the collegiate athletics landscape shifted greatly when it was announced that players from all across the nation would be able to profit off of their name, image and likeness (“NIL”). The change in policy was a complete turnaround from the strict prohibition of student athletes earning money or obtaining any sort of gift.

The long-debated topic has been a controversial one among fans, coaches, administrators and players. Being in the early stages of an NIL-friendly world, those topics have often times been exacerbated .

Questions raised regarding how it will affect the players’ mentality, the impact it would have on recruiting, there will be limitations and more are all legitimate.

With only one college football season in the books within the NIL-Era, it’s not entirely fair to judge the policy and its effect on college football.

Nick Saban claimed that the Crimson Tide’s then-sophomore quarterback, Bryce Young, had earned nearly seven figures in NIL deals within the first month of the policy’s existence.

Some teams have even seen entire groups of players land NIL sponsorships. For example, every offensive lineman on scholarship for the Texas Longhorns receives $50,000 annually from a non-profit organization for their use of the linemen’s name, image and likeness.

More recently, Texas A&M has become the center of rumors regarding NIL deals promised to recruits. The Aggies did finish the 2022 recruiting cycle with the highest-ranked class, according to 247Sports, but head coach Jimbo Fisher adamantly opposes the notion that money played a role in landing some of the top commits in the country. In fact, he found it “insulting.”

Regardless of how one might feel about student-athletes earning money through NIL, there is a specific avenue that no one has taken, until now.

Alex Austin is a rising-senior defensive back at Oregon State, who had 48 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defended in the 2021 season; But Austin is now making headlines for another reason.

Austin didn’t see NIL as a way to make money, but as an opportunity to raise money and help others.

Through his NIL representation at First Round Management and NIL representative Shawn O’Gorman, Austin has launched the first-ever NIL-funded scholarship for high school and college students.

The “Alex Austin Overcoming Adversity Scholarship” is hosted on Access Scholarship’s website and is co-funded by both Access Scholarship and the Hirect App, which both contributed $1,000 to the fund.

The scholarship is essay-based, where applicants will have to write about adversity they have faced and how they have or plan to overcome it. There will be one first-place winner, earning $1,000; and two second-place winners, earning $500 each.

O’Gorman mentioned Austin desired to give back to his community in some way, but didn’t want to follow the route others have taken-it has become commonplace in NIL for players to host camps for children in their hometowns, or for players to work with smaller, local businesses.

To Austin, adversity was a big part of his life and believes it shaped him to be the person he is today.

As Austin’s NIL representative, O’Gorman assisted in establishing the fund through the help of the two brands involved. He claimed that various other brands had reached out since the launch of the scholarship, wanting to get involved in future, similar opportunities. He also stated that Austin wants to make the scholarship an annual deal, with prize money increasing over time as more brands partner with him.

O’Gorman has been working with players across the nation since the policy was enacted, and he believes Austin’s scholarship will open the eyes of many players and representatives alike and could potentially “open the floodgates” to having more charitable NIL deals take place, including some of the biggest names in all of collegiate athletics.

With some of the nation’s most high-profile student athletes reportedly earning seven figures, like Bryce Young, the possibilities are endless.

Some have claimed that NIL will lead to players focusing on the money instead of the game, or that these young athletes will become greedy as a result of coming into money very quickly; But Oregon State’s Alex Austin is changing the narrative, and a trend may soon begin.

Contact/Follow us @RollTideWire on Twitter, and like our page on Facebook to follow ongoing coverage of Alabama news, notes and opinion. You can also follow AJ Spurr on Twitter @SpurrFM.

Let us know your thoughts, comment on this story below. Join the conversation today!

.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here