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FSU women’s soccer title leads to first-of-its-kind NIL group licensing deal benefiting the players

By Michael Smith
A licensing deal benefitting players was created to mark the title.getty images

Apparel that was created to celebrate Florida State’s NCAA championship in women’s soccer is believed to be the first product deal that pays athletes for winning a title.

 

Royalties from the sales will go to the players who opted into a group licensing program to compensate them for their name, image and likeness rights.

A small percentage of royalties normally would have gone to the NCAA because it was a championship event, but the governing body opted to waive its share for this program.

The complicated deal was brokered by Rising Spear, a business separate from the university, but which operates on its behalf. In the new NIL world, Rising Spear is what’s considered a collective that drives moneymaking deals for Florida State athletes. Typically, collectives arrange media appearances, autograph signings and, in some cases, endorsements. In this case, the collective, Rising Spear, is the licensor.

Courtesy of BreakingT

Collectives have sprung up all across the collegiate landscape because these third parties can facilitate NIL deals, whereas schools, in theory at least, are restricted from helping their athletes make money. In Florida’s NIL law, for example, schools cannot directly compensate their athletes, nor can they cause compensation to go to the athletes.

That’s why the women’s soccer championship apparel can’t be found in the school bookstore or any of FSU’s online channels.

The apparel line, which features T-shirts at $32 and hoodies at $55, can be bought only on the website for BreakingT, breakingt.com, the licensee that’s producing the line.

“I’ve been all for NIL, and in this case we thought it’d be great if something could be done for the student athletes,” said Michael Alford, Florida State’s new athletic director.

Rising Spear was founded in recent months by a pair of longtime and highly influential Seminole supporters, Alan Flaumenhaft and Bob Davis.

The company, which is directing all of the revenue back to the players, signed those who opted into a group license that pays them the royalty.

The apparel features silhouettes of the players from the winning moment in the championship game with a specially made FSU championship logo produced by CLC, the school’s licensing agent. The Seminoles had to approve the use of its mark and the championship logo that appears on the apparel. Specific royalty percentages were not made available by Rising Spear, but the company said it is not keeping any of the revenue from sales — it is going back to the players.

Katie Pugh, FSU’s director of trademark licensing, said the school had been in talks with its internal NIL task force about ways they could create co-branded product between the school and its athletes. The women’s soccer national championship struck Pugh as the perfect time to begin.

“It’s an ever-evolving and ever-changing space,” Pugh said. “One of the items at the top of my to-do list is to figure out group licensing and how we’re going to move forward with it.”

FSU still is waiting for its first sales report from BreakingT.

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