A group composed of diehard USC fans and wealthy donors are planning to start a third-party name, image and likeness collective to help the program compete with other premier schools with collectives in place.
The collective known as “Student Body Right” goes against the “school’s wishes” of keeping athletes away from donor-related collectives with hopes of preventing any future NIL issues between the school and the NCAA, according to The Los Angeles Times.
SBR’s goal is to provide Trojan football players who are academically eligible with the “equivalent of a base salary.” To earn the payments, players would be required to participate in community service and charity work in local organizations. While details have not been finalized for SBR, the group has filed for 501c3 status as a charitable organization, which would allow for some of the group’s donations to be tax-deductible.
In June, USC started a partnership with media company Stay Doubted to create BLVD LLC, which was launched to facilitate NIL deals for Trojan athletes. However, Dale Rech, a long-standing USC fan, Brian Kennedy, a well-known donor for Trojans athletics, and others are hoping SBR allows them to “contribute to the football program without any connection to USC” per the Times. Currently, BLVD is not registered as 501c3 charitable organization.
As the group pushes forward with the standalone collective, university leaders are troubled. USC athletic director Mike Bohn wrote in a statement to the Times reiterating the program’s stance on the creation of BLVD for its student athletes as well as denying the existence of SBR.
“USC is not aware of a formal donor-created NIL collective,” Bohn told the Times. “We ask any donors who would like to support USC’s athletes through NIL to please work with BLVD so that all activities are conducted in compliance with state laws and NCAA rules.”
In July, BLVD reportedly held two Zoom meetings to discuss its goals that include raising $75 million in fundraising efforts over the next five years as well the allocation for the funds, per the Times. However, only 50% of any donation would be allocated where the donor chose. The other 50% would be set aside for BLVD’s general fund and allocated however BLVD leaders choose to.
While BLVD’s approach toward the allocation of the money is reportedly being changed, it has served as an even greater impetus for those like Rech to launch SBR. USC reportedly could be held accountable for infractions if the outside collective breaches any compliance rules recently set by the NCAA.
But, Rech believes his due diligence of speaking with outside attorneys and tax experts should ensure the program is not put in jeopardy. Rech also said that SBR does not plan to involve itself with the Trojans’ recruiting efforts or any “prospective Trojan athletes” per the Times. In May, the NCAA announced the prohibiting of boosters and the collectives that boosters represent from being affiliated in the recruiting process or offering NIL deals as an incentive to sign with a program.
“This is a standalone collective, with no affiliation or ties to the university,” Rech told the Times. “The NCAA cannot go back at the university as long as we’re in compliance and stay within what the guidelines of the NCAA and state require. There’s no blowback from us on the university. They just want control.”
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