Quick thoughts from the Sports Marketing Association Conference in Charlotte
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
I'm still in Charlotte r. ight now, wrapping up the last few seminars at the Sports Marketing Association Conference before I head back to Chicago.
I've spent the last few days here listening to academics discuss new research in areas like ticket sales, international athlete recruitment, sponsorship deals and NIL. I also took some time to visit Queens University for the first time, and catch up with some reporter pals in Charlotte.
I want to take a little more time to really dig into the papers before I publish too much about them on EP (I'm learning that the conference setting isn't actually a great place to interview folks), but I hope to share several with you all soon.
I did have the opportunity to speak on an NIL forum, along with leaders at at Teamworks, OneTeam Partners, and Advance. Before I catch this flight back home and dig into my neglected emails, I figured I could share a few highlights from that conversation that might be of interest to this audience:
- I did get a chance to hear about a new research paper that studied athlete attitudes about NIL at mid-major universities, one that broadly echoed a lot of the themes I've written about here. The paper claimed that many athletes at mid-major schools weren't getting much NIL information from their schools directly, that the majority of the athletes weren't engaged with NIL, and that the deals they were engaging with were typically for nominal amounts of money, or just product. That's probably not especially surprising, but it's nice to get academic confirmation that what I have been seeing in the marketplace lines up with what they've seen.
- Perhaps the most interesting question, and one that I think is still underdiscussed a bit in the media, is what the athletes think about that. If an athlete at Vermont or Jacksonville State 0r Weber or whatever is checking Instagram and sees all these athletes reporting deals, and reads 247 about how athletes are all making bank, and then his parents are asking him why he isn't making any money....and he isn't making jack squat from his Opendorse postings...what does that do for his mental health? What kind of pressure does that put him under? Who helps meaningfully address those information gaps, gaps that can lead to meaningful negative outcomes?
- We're all still hearing that athletes not properly paying taxes on NIL earnings is common, and that lots of athletes are still missing out on important educational information...from wealth management, contracts, social media best practices. This is still happening, even as virtually every NIL marketplace has educational components, the world has been flooded with NIL consultants, and even sports management professors are getting into the mix. For my money, some consultants are good, some are less good, but figuring out how to engage athletes at scale has been a particularly troublesome problem to crack. Educating is more than just having the right content knowledge.
- This world is really dang fluid. Shoot, just yesterday, the NCAA released new guidance. Most professors and industry professionals that I trust expect significant changes in the NIL collective space for the next 12-18 months, to say nothing of likely industry consolidations, regulatory changes, lawsuits, and more. I'm going to continue to be pretty conservative with my projections, simply because the more I learn...the more unknowns I feel like I see. Anybody who is telling you they know what this world is going to be like soon is probably full of crap.
Hey, speaking of unknowns and Charlotte, let's talk about that coaching search
Earlier this week on Going For Two, Bryan and I chatted about the latest FBS head coach opening, as Charlotte is now looking for a new head man:
I'm not going to sit here and say that I know who Charlotte is going to hire, or even who they should hire. I think that's probably outside the scope of this newsletter and my professional expertise. What interests me about this particular gig, though, is the resource management side.
There's a lot to like about Charlotte right now, in my humble opinion. You sit in an interesting, growing city, one with proximity to a ton of college football fans and quality recruits. You're about to join the AAC, you're going to be on TV and an easily-accessibly streaming service and you'll have a nice stadium. I don't think it's difficult at all to imagine a world where a college football program in Charlotte becomes very solid.
But this is also very much not a wealthy program, and it's a program that will also need to raise more money to compete against larger schools in the AAC. Because the team is so dang new, and basically has no history of success at the FBS level, it'll also be very easy for them to get buried, attention-wise, if they aren't winning. I feel like the next hire is going to be need to be comfortable not just doing more with less in the resource department, but also somebody who is comfortable helping to build that back-end infrastructure that might not quite be there yet.
Not an impossible gig by any means, but an interesting one, especially in the NIL era. I'll be watching what happens here closely.
You can catch every Going For Two You on Youtube, or however else you get your podcasts.
Here's what else I wrote this week:
- I tried to explain what those new NCAA NIL guidelines actually mean, who benefits from them, and if they actually matter. On paper, I think these could actually represent meaningful changes...but that's only if they can actually enforce any of this stuff.
- I talked to the Commissioner of the WCC about their conference realignment strategy, how the Transformation Committee might impact their league, NCAA Tournament expansion, DEI, and much more.
- I uh, may or may not have spent like six hours looking up how every single team in FBS did right after a new Taylor Swift album comes out. My alma mater is undefeated. Purdue? Uh, not so much.
I'm working on writing up some of these academic papers, a story about a new athletic facility at a mid-major, video game licensing and more updates coming very soon.
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Thanks for all your support everybody. I'll catch up with y'all next week.
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