Dinkytown Athletes wants to be a sustainable NIL collective for Gopher players – InForum
A new name, image and likeness collective to support Gophers student-athletes flipped the switch in a soft launch on Monday.
Dinkytown Athletes released a teaser video on social media platforms to briefly share that the start-up will enter the NIL landscape. One executive says his NCAA-compliant and financially viable collective will be operational later this fall.
Dinkytown athletes will join a growing community of third-party groups at individual schools across the country that seek to facilitate money-making opportunities between local businesses and student-athletes. This dynamic was made possible by a Supreme Court ruling a year ago, resulting in changes to the NCAA rules in July 2021.
This Minnesota-centric collective incubated on the Discord messaging app beginning in January and grew to 230 members in online chat. Ideas were exchanged on how best to leverage NIL; they shared best practices and dangers elsewhere, and attendees raised their hands to volunteer.
Dinkytown Athletes is led by Rob Gag and Derek Burns, who led St. Paul-based technology company Tierney for more than 20 years until a merger last year. They were taking a break from business when die-hard Gopher fans approached them to lead the effort.
Since the NIL border has just celebrated its first anniversary, much of what the Minnesota collective has done in its information gathering – working with turnkey NIL software companies, attorneys/agents, corporate clothing, licenses, accountants and officials of the U.
“There are an endless number of hypothetical questions,” Burns said in a June interview.
Dinkytown Athletes’ goal is to build a sustainable organization: a three-year business plan is under review and they are partnering with software company NIL Basepath.
During the build-up, Burns consulted with Jeremiah Carter, the Gophers’ compliance manager. They have connections as former Gophers football teammates under head coach Glen Mason around 20 years ago.
“When Derek first hired us, he made it clear that they were looking to do something that would best serve our student-athletes within the rules, really from day one,” Carter said in an interview. end of June. “It’s not just about serving student-athletes, but in a way that aligns with NCAA guidelines and university policies.”
Burns found the U to be very responsive to their efforts to create a NIL collective and hopes the “teaser” video will give Gophers fans and boosters a brief window into the behind-the-scenes work they’ve been doing for months.
Dinkytown Athletes has not yet done outreach to businesses or individuals about possible partnerships, but they encourage potential businesses to reach out. Their website, dinkytownathletes.com, offers the option to subscribe but nothing else. More elements are expected closer to full deployment.
Burns, a graduate of the Carlson School of Management, also knows now is the time to educate potential partners and fans in general about the new landscape. This primarily means explaining how players cannot receive offers simply for being on the team without doing any work or service – otherwise known as payment for play. NIL also cannot be used as an incentive recruitment for high school students or university transfers.
Burns knows that some people “don’t care” how some other collectives claim not to be involved in recruiting. He believes the “best recruiting tool” supports current student-athletes with a “robust and enduring NIL collective.”
When players transferred or were hired from other schools, an emerging question was whether NIL agreements were involved in their decision-making process. Burns said his research has shown that news of big NIL deals for top athletes across the country doesn’t often trickle down to other lesser-known players and sports.
On NIL, Gophers football coach PJ Fleck often points to the abundance of Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities area as fertile ground for deals. He is also quick to say that neither he nor the U can play a role in setting them up.
Burns looks at the Twin Cities market differently than Fleck, saying Fortune 500 companies are often led by executives who graduated from various schools, not just Minnesota, which means setting up possible NIL deals for athletes Gopher is not their first priority. It’s mostly a return on investment, Burns said.
Burns says exposure opportunities for U athletes should be greater within America’s 15th largest media market. He compared it to the likes of Nebraska, which is in Lincoln’s 105th-largest market. True, the 75th largest market, Omaha, is 80 kilometers away.
“I personally believe,” Burns said, “one of the greatest potential benefits, if not the greatest for a school like the University of Minnesota, is market reach.”
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