Blake Lawrence had accomplished his dream, becoming a starting linebacker at Nebraska in the same year he walked away from football completely.
Lawrence suffered four concussions in the span of 12 months. He couldn’t even remember peoples’ names, let alone consider continuing to play.
“Your college career may not be how you dreamt it,” Lawrence said to all the finalists and their parents yesterday in the ballroom of a Marriott hotel in southern California.
The Kansas native serves as the CEO of Opendorse, a tech company with a mobile app that makes it convenient for athletes to receive pitches, negotiate payment, and partner with brands.
Big Players, Big Brands
Opendorse works with more than 40,000 users from Patrick Mahomes II to Team USA to help build, manage and monetize their name, image, and likeness.
500+ brands from Audi to FedEx use the services of Opendorse.
Beginning this week, the NCAA is anticipated to allow compensation of its student-athletes for use of their NIL.
14 state laws having to do with NIL went into effect as of yesterday.
NIL does not pertain to pay for play; recruiting inducements are also not permitted.
“For the parents who thought you’d have to deal with agents five years from now, it may now be five months,” Lawrence said.
Who Are You on Social Media?
The Opendorse team met with the college counselors and finalists in smaller pods to provide NIL assessments to all of them.
“We’re going to show you how the world sees you,” Lawrence said.
Essentially, Opendorse examined every athlete’s social media history to provide each with an evaluation (approximation) of what their NIL could command on the open market.
“Have you ever gone on Zillow and crept on your neighbor’s home value?” Lawrence said. “[Opendorse is] like that.”
Potentially harmful posts from every athlete’s social media history were shared privately with the individual as part of the NIL assessments.
“What you say and do online matters,” Lawrence said. “[Opendorse is] like your big brother so you don’t get in trouble.”
Implications For Student-Athletes
1,200 agents use Opendorse, which is available in two forms: Deals or Monitor. The latter applies exclusively to college athletes for compliance purposes.
Lawrence wanted to meet with the Elite 11 finalists and the college counselors because he believes state legislators did not anticipate their laws would go into effect before a federal, overarching bill comes into the picture.
In other words, politicians simply wanted to apply pressure on the NCAA to change its rules. And now that the institution has, legislators are scrambling to create an infrastructure on how to enforce what they’ve legalized.
“NIL is not new to sports,” Lawrence said. “It’s new to college sports.”
Prior to speaking at the Elite 11, Lawrence traveled to six different locations across the country in the last seven days.
More than 100 college programs know about his product.
“If you cannot be found, you won’t be followed,” Lawrence said.
He asked all the finalists to consider making their profile pictures and usernames on social media consistent from app to app.
Developing and trademarking a logo is another consideration.
So far among athletes who use the app, fees range from upwards of $45k to as low as $20. Opendorse does not advise its users on setting a rate.
‘Game and a Job’
It’s interesting how the value of an Instagram post differs markedly from an Instagram Story.
Lawrence made the analogy of an Instagram Story is a television ad while a grid post may be thought of as a billboard.
But if Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler wants to benefit off of his NIL and use Opendorse, he needs to check to see if there are NIL laws in his state and what the policies pertaining to NIL are at his university.
Rattler may partner with Skittles, negotiate a rate for a one-time Twitter post, and then provide proof of action (the URL link of the Tweet) through the Opendorse app that goes to the compliance department.
Lawrence described this aspect of Opendorse like filing an expense report.
“NIL is a game and a job,” Lawrence said.