Webinar: Enhancing the Collective and University Relationship [VIDEO]

June 3, 2024

Basepath recently hosted a webinar featuring Dinkytown Athletics and University of Minnesota administrators, Jeremiah Carter and Derek Burns. The discussion focused on the evolving landscape of NIL and the critical partnership between collectives and universities. 

Introduction to NIL- 3:30

Jeremiah, who was the Director of Compliance at the University of Minnesota when NIL legislation was passed in 2021, quickly recognized the importance of the department’s involvement in the new landscape. Meanwhile, Derek’s journey into NIL began when he was invited as a guest on a Minnesota radio show. Impressed by his insights, the show’s owner asked him to start and run a collective. Both Jeremiah and Derek bring a unique perspective to the NIL space as former Minnesota student-athletes.

Why working with the university is essential- 7:12 

Jeremiah and Derek emphasized the importance of working closely with universities during their presentation on NIL and Dinkytown. When NIL legislation passed in 2021, the landscape was sparse, with only a few collectives in existence. However, within four months, over 30 collectives had emerged. In 2022, Dinkytown Athletics was launched, but they initially faced skepticism from donors. While die-hard fans eagerly joined when memberships launched, casual fans were slower to get on board. Shortly after launching, they encountered their first transfer portal window, losing 10 players to other Power 5 schools but gaining two transfers in return. This experience highlighted the critical need for collaboration between collectives and universities to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the NIL era.

Funding for Retention- 11:00

Securing funding for retention is critical, especially before the transfer portal opens. Recognizing this need, the collective and university developed a collaborative plan to ensure financial support is in place ahead of time. The impact of this funding often isn’t visible until the following season, when it can be seen in the team’s performance on the field. Throughout the season, fans can be very reactionary and may question the importance of NIL funding if the team isn’t performing well. To address this, the Athletic Department committed to promoting Dinkytown Athletics year-round to consistently increase funding and support.

Athletic Department Promotion- 14:44

The Athletic Department created its first full-time position dedicated to overseeing NIL and collective collaboration, expanding the team to better support these initiatives. Dinkytown Athletics then entered into an agreement with Gopher Sports Partners, becoming the official NIL entity of the University of Minnesota. The Athletic Department’s intentional and continuous promotion of Dinkytown Athletics led to a remarkable 1,485% increase in funding for DTA before the transfer portal opened in 2023. Additionally, when the spring portal opened, funding saw another significant increase of 800%. Memberships also steadily grew as fans increasingly engaged with the collective, demonstrating strong support for the program.

Collaborations- 22:00

Dinkytown Athletics initiated several successful collaborations to boost NIL opportunities. Their first partnership was with a burger vendor from their football stadium, where players promoted the vendor, who in turn donated a portion of the proceeds to NIL. Additionally, the ticket office collaborated with DTA to offer a discounted trial membership paired with a ticket package for winter sports. Impressively, four months later, 72% of those who signed up converted to paying members. Dinkytown also sponsored the Dinkytown Kids Club Combine, providing athletes with NIL deals for participating in the event. These initiatives show finding mutually beneficial solutions can strengthen both the collective and the athletic department.

Collaboration Going Forward- 39:00

Following the House decision, schools and collectives are re-evaluating their roles and relationships. This shift is happening rapidly, prompting a critical question: Are you better off working with a collective or managing NIL initiatives internally? Many believe that having a collective is advantageous, as there are numerous actions a collective can take that an institution cannot. However, it’s essential to consider Title IX implications, especially when it comes to revenue sharing and NIL deals. Balancing these factors is key to navigating the evolving landscape of college athletics.

Resolving Conflict- 44:00 

The best way to resolve issues between a collective and a university is through open and consistent communication. Establish regular, collaborative discussions to ensure both parties are aligned on goals, strategies, and expectations. It’s important to have honest conversations about current and upcoming initiatives, exploring potential challenges and how different stakeholders might react. Transparency from the collective is crucial in these interactions, as it builds trust and ensures that both the collective and the university are on the same page. By fostering a culture of openness and cooperation, issues can be addressed proactively, leading to more effective problem-solving and a stronger, more cohesive partnership. Additionally, setting up joint meetings and feedback loops can help identify and resolve potential conflicts early, ensuring that both entities work towards the common goal of supporting student-athletes and enhancing their overall experience.