How The Gator Collective is Transforming NIL & Why No One Has Successfully Replicated It
A genius company (soon to be worth millions of dollars) that deals exclusively in the NIL landscape for UF athletes and fans.
When NIL went live, many wondered what alums and boosters would do to get involved.
Would they provide cars for athletes? Sign them to big deals under the guise of NIL? Get the players a little extra money through autographs?
Most of this has happened, but it only benefits the top athletes at the top schools.
There had to be a better way. One that included a multitude of athletes from all different sports and enabled every athlete the chance to benefit from NIL.
This is how the Gator Collective was born.
It does all of that and more - specifically for athletes and fans at the University of Florida.
What is The Gator Collective?
It's hard to give a distinct company description because they have their hands tied in a bunch of different baskets.
But basically, The Gator Collective is an agency for UF players. They find deals, create their own deals, and act as a third party connecting UF athletes with key resources.
Professional development is at the heart of this initiative.
Whether it's an alum who is a lawyer, and can help with reading a contract. A UF professor to teach athletes how to properly conduct themselves in an interview.
Or an expert in financial literacy that can provide education on the tax implications regarding NIL.
The Gator Collective helps set up these interactions.
And it’s genius, because the schools themselves aren't allowed to do a lot of this under NCAA laws.
The Gator Collective is created by people outside their institution, but utilizes internal resources under "pro-bono" work.
Along with the NIL portion, they provide unique experiences for the fans who join via a membership.
They recently held a bowling event for select members and a few UF football players.
The Creators of The Gator Collective
The entire fan base at UF creates this experience on a continual basis, but there's some impressive people behind the initial creation and operations.
I had the honor to speak with two of them: Eddie Rojas and Jen Grosso.
Eddie is a former UF baseball player who runs a wealth management firm and serves as the CEO of The Gator Collective.
Jen is a lawyer by trade, who holds the titles of VP and operations manager at The Gator Collective. She is also involved with The Gator Good Foundation, which provides underprivileged Gator fans an experience on campus.
The two of them, along with a few others, run the entire show at The Gator Collective. They even funded the upfront payments out of their own pockets.
The Gator Collective team is currently doing this with no intentions of profiting from it, besides providing fans and players with unique experiences.
All of them are die-hard UF fans, who can "get professional" when they need to.
What's the Mission
“The goal of The Gator Collective is to develop athletes beyond just NIL. We're teaching UF athletes how to become professionals and promoting long-term development.” - Eddie Rojas
With over $100,000 in committed memberships only 3 weeks after launch, The Gator Collective is quickly becoming one of the top NIL companies in the country.
They have over $40,000 in contracted NIL deals - with 15 different athletes from the University of Florida.
"We're just getting started" said Eddie Rojas, when asked about the future for The Gator Collective.
They plan to be in every sport at the University of Florida and have millions of dollars committed through their $6/month membership.
The NIL Deals
When I asked about their current NIL deals, they said most of them fall into one of four categories:
Social Media Posts
Some of the deals are specifically for The Gator Collective, while others are for outside members facilitated through the Collective team.
That is why I mentioned earlier that The Gator Collective is essentially an agency for the players.
The deals can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand.
Some of them are a one-time thing, while others might be 5-months long.
Why Haven't Other Schools Done This?
Florida fans have long had a saying: "Gators take care of Gators."
That's a major reason why this initiative has been so successful.
But I'm honestly baffled that no other schools have attempted to do this. It's one of the most genius things to come out of NIL.
You give fans a better experience and get the players paid through NIL deals - while also developing them professionally.
What a great way to bring everyone together.
And it's one hell of a recruiting tool that coaches can use to bring in highly-rated players.
Gator Collective Alternatives
To be able to replicate it you would need a few things:
a large fanbase
loyal, die-hard fans
leaders with the right motives
This eliminates a lot of schools, but also puts a spotlight on a few that would greatly benefit from something similar.
You're telling me schools like Penn State, Clemson, and Iowa couldn't do this successfully?
They probably could, but I have a theory...
Eddie Rojas, Jen Grosso, and other key Gator Collective members aren't alums of those schools.
What The Gator Collective has been able to accomplish in such a short time frame is impressive. (Although, I’m not surprised after talking to the people who are steering the ship.)
I plan to keep an eye on what they’ve got going on, because it’s headed to the sky!
Literally and figuratively! (this will all make sense when The Gator Collective releases more info on future events)
You can follow The Gator Collective’s journey here on Twitter
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