Lincoln Riley hopeful USC, donor-run NIL collective can coexist

Two weeks before the question was no longer hypothetical, Lincoln Riley was asked if he thought USC and its name, image and likeness company, BLVD LLC, could work with a third-party collective if needed, whose financially strong donors dictate their own approach to NILE.

“That’s the hope,” Riley told the Los Angeles Times on media day at the Pac-12 conference last month, before adding a warning.

Not all collectives, the Trojans coach warned, work with the same agenda as the universities they represent.

“There’s a million different problems that can be caused this way,” Riley said.

Many of those potential issues came into focus this week when a group of USC donors and fans announced the formation of Student Body Right, an independent NIL collective seeking to provide all Trojans football players who are academically eligible with “the Equivalent to paying a base “salary” in exchange for a set amount of community service, according to Dale Rech, a lifelong USC fan and one of the collective’s founders.

Rech and his group didn’t get a warm welcome from USC this week, where administrators have been particularly cautious in their approach to NIL — and explicit in their rejection of outside, donor-led collectives they fear are failing NCAA testing could invite.

But while USC and Student Body Right may have started off on the wrong foot, the Trojans coach on Friday expressed hope that everyone involved could find common ground.

“I think we have a lot of signs internally that people want to support our program and are excited about what’s going on here,” Riley said. “It’s an idea that doesn’t surprise us. We believe very much in the BLVD concept, not only for what it can do for our student-athletes, but also to make sure we play by the rules and have people who have worked in this business and are experts in this Area is very, very important to us.

“Listen, this is new to all of us. It’s still evolving in all sorts of places across the country and I’m confident we’ll be able to bring everyone together and make sure it’s a collaborative effort.”

USC defenseman Jaylin Smith (19) and teammates during practice on the first day of fall training camp August 5.

Trojans defenseman Jaylin Smith (19) and teammates during practice on the first day of fall camp August 5.

(Michael Owen Baker / For the Times)

That’s a slightly different tone than USC struck Tuesday when the university, in its official statement, refused to recognize the right of the student body, noting that it has “no awareness of a formal donor-created NIL collective.” Has”.

This contentious relationship comes as no surprise to Mit Winter, a sports law attorney and NIL analyst from Kansas City, Mo.

“Universities would obviously prefer to have collectives run by people they have a good relationship with and can work with and feel comfortable with, especially people they feel comfortable with will bond with comply with NCAA rules,” Winter said. “But the interesting thing about the NIL world right now is that anyone can create a collective that supports their favorite university and the university can’t do anything about it.”

Details of how Student Body Right plans to support Trojans football players remain unclear, but Rech told the Times on Friday that the collective expects to be ready by the start of next USC’s spring semester, which begins Jan. 9 begin payout.

How those payments are distributed will be of significant interest to USC. Student Body Right insists that it has no interest in engaging in any way in recruiting or influencing potential athletes, which would be an explicit violation of NCAA rules.

The group has applied for 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit organization, and at least provides a loose framework for how it must operate.

“The real test,” Winter said, “will be how they operate after they already have that 501(c)(3) status — whether they operate in a way that truly advances their mission, or whether they just do it justice.” work to ensure that as much booster fan money as possible goes to the athletes?”

Rech declined to provide specifics, but said his group considered the models of several college football collectives with 501(c)(3) status while determining how best to structure student body law.

The group’s initial inspiration to seek 501(c)(3) status came from Texas, where the Pancake Factory program within the Horns with Heart collective offers each Texas offensive lineman $50,000 annually in exchange for activities, that benefit charities.

The Matador Club, a Texas Tech collective, extended this notion to the entire team, paying each Red Raiders football player $25,000 a year in exchange for community service.

Friends of the University of Notre Dame, a collective led by former Fighting Irish quarterback Brady Quinn, takes a more practical approach, as the collective’s board of directors interviews players to determine their best fit for a charity, and then the players for charity work compensated. Appearances and social media posts.

Student Body Right will likely offer something similar, with each player expected to receive a lump sum payment or payments in exchange for charity work. But with USC officials on high alert, determined to avoid even a shred of a potential NCAA exam, the devil will be in the details. Lincoln Riley hopeful USC, donor-run NIL collective can coexist

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