A talk with the Gophers’ NIL czar
Name, image and likeness (NIL) is the wild, wild west of college sport. It is crazy, always changing, and still new to me and others. We are still learning more about it.
Therefore, there’s no better person to go to on this than Jeremiah Carter at the University of Minnesota.
Carter last month was named senior associate athletic director for NIL/Policy and Risk Management. Since 2015, he has been compliance director for Gopher athletics, having spent six years before that at the NCAA. His additional duties until his successor is hired now include identifying and managing NIL issues to ensure that such deals pass muster.
I call Carter the Gophers’ NIL czar. He recently sat down with me in his office at Bierman and patiently answered my questions.
“I don’t think we know what impact NIL is going to have yet,” admitted Carter. “And I think anybody who is saying that the impact is going to be X, Y or Z, none of them have any more information than anybody else.”
Last month the U of M announced that Dinkytown Athletes is the official NIL collective for Gopher athletics. “A collective is an outside organization,” explained Carter.
Dinkytown Athletes was launched in 2022 and previously operated as an independent collective. Now the group can use official university marks, logos and images, and help set up marketing efforts—radio ads, email marketing, and display and banner advertisements—on behalf of Dinkytown Athletes.
It can now connect Minnesota fans and local businesses in supporting NIL opportunities for Gopher student-athletes, with membership packages ranging from $10/month to $500/month. Carter quickly pointed out that Dinkytown Athletes “doesn’t take marching orders from [U of M] athletic department staff. The collective is fully an outside entity.
“So, all of the name, image and likeness deals that they enter into are directly made with the student-athletes. If student-athletes have a representative, they’ll work with the student-athlete representative.”
The players make NIL deals, or in the case of Minnesota athletes, hook up with a collective like Dinkytown. This might seem to be a positive, but negative potential exists out there as well.
“We’re talking about 18-to-22 or 23-year-olds,” noted Carter, who agreed with me that student-athletes really have to know what they are getting themselves into, especially once they put their name on a contract and what it ultimately means. Concerns that we share include “student-athletes…signing over their name, image and likeness rights in perpetuity. I mean, we’ve seen contracts that have that language in it.
“I wouldn’t sign something that says ‘in perpetuity,’” he advised.
The U of M Law School has partnered with a local law firm to review NIL contracts for players for free if asked. This service is also available for all Minnesota students and not just for athletes.
Educational classes on NIL for Gopher players have been made available as well, noted Carter. “Since January, we’ve offered 21 different sessions for student-athletes. We can’t require them to be fiscally responsible. We can’t pull out money and set aside money for taxes in the future.
“So, there are decisions that ultimately individual student athletes have to make,” said Carter. “But we are doing everything we can to provide them with the resources to make their decisions.”
Will NIL deals finally put to rest the elephant in the room issue of paying college athletes? Will it finally set up an equitable revenue-sharing plan between big-time college sports and the players who largely are responsible for all the money they make for their college or university? Next week in Another View, a longtime advocate of fair compensation for college players shares his thoughts on NIL.
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