Link Here. Whit Interview starts at about the 8 minute mark, goes until the 30 min mark. As always, my summary below is my interpretation. I recommend listening because you may hear a different message than I did 🤷♂️
About 5 minutes in, it became clear that this interview isn't geared towards the super fan (like me) who has spent all off-season reading article after article on NIL. Rather, I think it's primarily for people who (a) want to get involved, but don't know how, or (b) are wary of getting involved (possibly more 'traditional' donors who might need some encouraging that NIL isn't evil)
- Whit wants VT to be competitive in NIL, but also wants to make sure recruits in every sport "pick Virginia Tech because it's Virginia Tech," not just for the money.
- VT wants to differentiate themselves by making NIL as easy and athlete friendly as possible (my words, not Whit's):
- Lots of examples of support from the school to help athletes; from mentors on brand management to advisors who will review the contract and make sure athletes aren't being taken advantage of.
- Three collectives, each with a different purpose: one non-profit focused, one primarily football focused (but does some other sports), one primarily basketball focused, (but does some other sports too).
- The collectives have all access to video production equipment/professionals, contract lawyers, etc
- Additionally, One two-way marketplace (Hokie Exchange) that matches businesses to players.
- NIL is something the athletic department works on daily (this is said multiple times throughout the interview).
- When discussing the positives and negatives of NIL, Whit points out two negatives that never occurred to me:
- The recruiting process is more complicated; in addition to talking to coaches from each school, recruits must communicate with the people who work at collectives at each school
- Also mentions a few instances at other programs (doesn't say which, but says it hasn't happened at VT) where an NIL provider makes a promise but doesn't deliver.
- Multiple professional sports comparisons:
- Believes that the facilities arm race will slow down soon as NIL becomes more of a selling point to recruits, and donor money that would have in the past go to facilities goes to NIL. Says NFL players don't pick teams based on the locker room
- Whit made multiple comments that he would like NIL to move 'in house', says in 2-5 years it could be professionalized, mentioned a review sharing, etc. Said this could possibly be a less expensive model
- Mentions 'the courts' (multiple times) needing to pass a law to standardize NIL. My reading-between-the-lines of his repeated comments is that he's not confident in the courts to pass something, but he feels it's the only way NIL can work long term.
- "I really do feel like we as Virginia Tech are ahead of the curve on the structure, our platform, our strategy, the way we do NIL. We do need some help with the funding, the investment, and the Name, Image, and Likeness dollars."
- "Ultimately, I think NIL could be a less expensive model for us, so I'd encourage people to keep an open mind, learn more about it"
- Whit's obviously taking NIL seriously. Although that's expected, I find it's still reassuring to hear - I feel like I haven't heard about VT much in the NIL news/rumor mill, so it was nice to hear Whit talking about it.
- Kinda confirms my suspicion that we have the infrastructure in place but need the money.
- I found the 'negatives' really interesting. I've heard about players getting one sided contracts, but not about players getting getting straight up duped. I also can't imagine getting recruited by a coaching staff, but also by the leaders of an NIL collective from each school.
- I'm really happy that Whit is talking about professionalization. 4 years ago I was very pro-NIL and very anti-revenue sharing. My opinion has swung drastically over the last couple years (for a variety of reasons), so I'm relieved to see that Whit is forward-thinking on this matter.