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Youngstown State University Shatters NIL Records – Over 120 Athletes Net $540,000+ In First Year

Youngstown State University (YSU) emerges as a frontrunner in the burgeoning Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) landscape, according to data from the university. Over 120 YSU student-athletes secured NIL deals in 2023, collectively reporting more than $540,000 in NIL disclosures throughout the year.

Tyler Burk, YSU’s assistant director of compliance, attributes the university’s NIL success to a proactive approach driven by the athletic director’s directive “to embrace NIL and try being the best at it.” Burk told Tribune Chronicle that YSU has outperformed peer institutions and higher-level schools in the NIL space.

A key factor behind YSU’s robust NIL program is its partnership with Opendorse, a leading NIL marketplace that facilitates endorsement deals between athletes, businesses, and supporters. Through the Opendorse platform, YSU athletes can sign up for various opportunities sourced by the company.

One athlete leveraging Opendorse is Mitch Davidson, YSU’s quarterback, who offers fan engagement opportunities ranging from $12 video shoutouts to $1,000 personal appearances. Businesses can also directly propose endorsement deals to student-athletes through the platform.

Beyond Opendorse, YSU collaborates with Penguin Collective, an entity founded by local businesses and donors to support student-athletes NIL endeavors. Tim Petrey, CEO of HD Growth Partners and founder of Penguin Collective, highlights the collective’s role in connecting athletes like Davidson with local companies for commercial appearances, social media promotions, and events.

Petrey emphasized the importance of personal branding for student-athletes, telling Tribune Chronicle, “This is a life lesson beyond this for these student-athletes. Many of these kids don’t understand that social media and the image that you put of yourself out into the world and on the internet is going to impact the success of your career, regardless of what path you’re going down.”

According to YSU’s website, the university ranked as the top-earning college in the Horizon League for NIL deals in 2023, with its men’s basketball program ranking 13th among Division I programs nationwide.

Burk indicates that YSU aims to increase community involvement in the NIL process and expand its impact to encompass more university athletics, including Olympic sports. “I think it’s going to be critical as we move forward to continue to have a great NIL program and promote it,” he told Tribune Chronicle. “That’s where kids want to go to school.”

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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