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$10 million Austin NIL scholarship fund to help Longhorn athletes cash in on new sponsorships

Texas football star Bijan Robinson is one of many athletes cashing in on new NIL laws. (Bijan Robinson/Twitter)

We’ve seen UT athletes making sponsorship deals with restaurants, retail and even crypto-created NFTs—and soon, a $10 million fund will help athletes further profit off of their name, image and likeness.


The Clark Field Collective is a $10 million fund set up by former Longhorn athletes, donors and sports marketer Nick Shuley to "ensure college athlete success year after year,", according to the funds' website. For the first time, Texas collegiate student-athletes have been able to profit off of their hard work and clout after a Texas bill was passed this summer. The Wednesday announcement is the latest in opportunities for UT athletes to make a profit off their name, image or likeness.

According to its site, the fund will look to accomplish four things: to "cultivate relationships with businesses, donors and fans," facilitate "opportunities in a compliant fashion," educate "college athletes on business" and protect "eligibility of college athletes." The fund was aided by former UT stars including former NBA player TJ Ford, who will serve on the board, former NFL safety Kenny Vaccaro and former professional volleyball player Juliann Johnson.

At the helm is new CEO Shuley, who has experience marketing for ACL and Bo Jackson.

“The University of Texas at Austin maintains the largest, wealthiest alumni donor base in the entire country,” Shuley said. ”It’s time a network like this existed to support our college athletes. The Collective is being established to make that happen.”

Collegiate athletes haven't hesitated in securing deals from T-shirts to chain restaurant sponsorships. Football star Bijan Robinson has done both with sponsorships by Centre Apparel and Raising Cane's, and he's also the first current Longhorn to create his own NFT—a kind of digital collector's item that serves as trading cards for the crypto world. More NFTs are on the way with NiftyHorns, which has created these digital cards for two Longhorn athletes and hopes to add the whole athletic roster in the future.



As of Oct. 25, Axios found that 175 NIL agreements had been disclosed with the university across a variety of sports—and perhaps surprisingly, softball sat at the lead with 33 signings thus far. The university has pitched in with a LEVERAGE program designed to educate student-athletes with "comprehensive programming around name, image and likeness to equip them with the knowledge and tools necessary to maximize their brand and platform."

The program also hosts a directory to connect athletes with potential companies. Meanwhile, a SurlyHorns program has introduced all tight ends to guaranteed four-figure earnings—even for walk-ons—through its new "Burnt Ends" program.

The Clark Field Collective will look to provide equal opportunities to all athletes and spread its funds to all sports.

“Our goal is to create something that becomes both the gold standard in the field, and a one-stop fund to be disseminated amongst all sports for NIL activities activated through: endorsements, autographs, appearances, and more,” Shuley said. “Through a multi-tiered approach beginning with the donors, followed by major brand participation and ultimately brand building, we will create something that allows for stability, sustainability and growth over the years at Texas.”

It's a fund they hope will extend far into the future—and in turn, attract new athletes to the university as schools across the country look to attract prospects with more than just what's on the field.

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