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Oliver Luck goes deep on NIL collectives popping up

By Michael Smith

Like a lot of college administrators, Oliver Luck wonders how much longer the NCAA will permit donor collectives to facilitate NIL deals unchecked for the athletes -- and Luck is in the business of starting collectives. The former West Virginia AD is a co-founder in the Country Roads Trust, a collective that accepts donations and strikes NIL deals for the Mountaineers’ athletes to make money.

CONFLICTING EMOTIONS: Luck also consults for Altius Sports Partners, the NIL firm that shows third parties how to start a collective. Considering how deeply Luck is immersed in this new form of NIL activity, he still is conflicted by the role these third parties play in compensating athletes. “These collectives are popping up everywhere and there’s no guidance coming from the NCAA,” Luck told SBJ. “I just don’t have a clear crystal ball on where all of this is headed. My crystal ball is pretty cloudy.”

COLLECTIVE THOUGHTS: Collectives must remain unaffiliated with the school. The most popular model has three business divisions: work with the corporate community to find income-producing deals for athletes; collect donations to the trust; and create media opportunities for players on podcasts or other digital outlets that come with a paycheck. Luck and co-founder Ken Kendrick, owner of the D-backs, already have established a board, which includes Jerry West, and made their first hire. Stephen Ford, who formerly oversaw business development for the Learfield-owned property at WVU, has joined the Country Roads Trust in a similar role. Ford has deep ties to the corporate community, which should help generate commercial opportunities for the athletes.

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