College Sports: People to watch
Executive Chairman, Fanatics
Executive Vice President, Fanatics College
As the leading retailer of licensed sports merchandise, Fanatics could be uniquely positioned to work with college athletes and any third parties like OneTeam, for example, to create new lines of college gear or other activations. Rubin is considered one of the brightest innovators in sports business, while Eiler, who heads up Fanatics’ college business, will be charged with implementing the strategy.
The NCAA created a working group to study NIL rights, but Emmert and Remy, his No. 2, are the players here. The future of NIL rights very well could be negotiated behind the scenes by Emmert and Remy with legislators who are putting forth bills like the one in California that became law.
CEO, Nike (effective Jan. 13)
Donahoe, who was named as Mark Parker’s replacement in October, will have to figure out how new NIL rules could affect the brand. Shoe and apparel partners like Nike could see the value of their school partnerships compromised if athletes sign deals with competitors.
Nassar established himself while running NFL Players Inc., making him a natural choice to lead a groundbreaking new business, OneTeam, created by RedBird Capital, the NFLPA and MLBPA, to help athletes monetize their NIL rights through group licensing. OneTeam will focus on video games and trading cards before branching out into other categories. The college marketplace is a clear target.
Partner, Winston & Strawn
Kessler is part of a high-powered legal team that represents the plaintiffs in Alston v. NCAA. Alston’s case seeks to remove any cap on an athlete’s ability to make money off NIL rights. Kessler, a well-known attorney for his work on antitrust and sports law cases, won the NCAA case in March, but without any consequences, so both sides appealed. A ruling is expected in 2020.
CEO/President, Learfield IMG College
Brown, a 30-plus-year Learfield veteran, has guided the company through multiple ownership changes this decade and his next challenge will be navigating it into the NIL era. Will Learfield IMG College try to represent college athletes’ rights and package them with school assets? That’s one option Brown will consider.
Why Sankey more than any other power five commissioner? Because of the rabid fan bases he represents in the SEC. If EA Sports, for example, decided to produce a conference-specific football video game, where is its first call? The SEC. And that only strengthens his voice on this topic.
Executive Director, National College Players Association
Huma’s group agreed to a strategic partnership with the NFLPA earlier this year and now we know why. The NCPA will work in tandem with OneTeam to get college players to join the group licensing business. Huma is a longtime advocate for student-athlete rights since his football playing days at UCLA.
U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.),
and other legislators
California was the first state to pass a bill that says the NCAA cannot prohibit or penalize athletes for monetizing their NIL rights. Six more states introduced similar bills in 2019. Walker’s federal bill is different because it would create a set of standards across the nation, not just state to state.