Temple has remained fairly under the radar as college athletes across the nation raced to take advantage of new opportunities to monetize their name, image and likeness.
Nonetheless, the athletic department has provided athletes with practical resources. The Owls have connected athletes with advertisers, created a partnership with INFLCR — a content and compliance platform — and invented a new opportunity through NBC’s Sports Athlete Direct pilot program.
“Just because we don’t have anything out there publicly. ... We’ve been actively engaged in education with our student athletes in what this new name, image and likeness world looks like for them,” said Kristy Bannon, Temple’s senior associate athletic director of compliance and student affairs. “We’ve been working quietly since this changed. Even in the weeks and months leading up to knowing a change was coming.”
On July 1, 2021, the NCAA passed its groundbreaking policy change giving athletes more financial freedom.
The decision came two weeks after a unanimous Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Alston, highlighted by an opinion from Justice Brett Kavanaugh that dismantled the NCAA’s definition of amateurism.
Specific legislations from individual states followed.
Governor Tom Wolf’s Article XX-K of Senate Bill 381 says college athletes competing in Pennsylvania must provide seven days’ notice to their institution prior to entering into a contract. Those schools are also prohibited from brokering deals with prospective or current athletes.
Before Arthur Johnson was hired as vice president and athletic director on Oct. 6, Temple had an NIL team that met weekly under interim athletic director Fran Dunphy to determine next steps.
Included in those Zoom meetings were Bannon, Teresa Covington, assistant AD of compliance and student affairs, and Justin Miller, senior associate AD of academics and career services.
“They had the template and they had the structure in place,” Johnson said. “Brand R was a group that I was familiar with from Texas, there was some discussion with them. They were engaged with [NIL] and had a few deals that were done at that time, the educational sessions and pieces in place, but it was still very fluid.”
In November 2019, INFLCR put out a release to announce its pending partnership with Temple. Then-senior associate AD Vincent James said in the release that the partnership “provides a unique platform to allow our student-athletes to use our content to tell their own stories.”
The onboarding process of INFLCR didn’t fully kick-start until Vaughan Moss, assistant AD of digital media and branding, joined Temple last October.
Johnson, Bannon, and Moss each gave similar explanations for Temple’s under-the-radar approach to NIL. They said the focus has been on the work itself and disseminating information to get everyone on the same page within the confines of the athletics department while monitoring the national level.
Back in January, Johnson joined a meeting that included university presidents, athletic directors, and outgoing NCAA president Mark Emmert. The talk focused on sifting through the gray areas of NIL, including potential attempts at pay-for-play schemes and booster-initiated collectives.
Moss has become the liaison for the partnership meeting with each team, working in tandem with compliance either over Zoom or in person to explain how athletes can utilize INFLCR.
“I’m focusing obviously on the social and brand side, how it’s a tool for that,” he said. “There’s also a part of our partnership that allows them to disclose their NIL deals through the app. So they need to know what that looks like and why it’s important.”
Moss had experience with the platform from his time in a similar role at Georgetown. The Hoyas’ timeline mirrored Temple’s as they joined INFLCR in late 2019. Their onboarding experience was gradual, adding teams as the company upgraded features and improved its software.
Founded in 2017, INFLCR launched as a content management company that helped athletes gather pictures and videos from their games in a more streamlined way.
In preparation for NIL and the swift changes that followed, the company added “Storyteller Playbook,” a library of videos dissecting different tenets of NIL, including entrepreneurship, social media and branding, as well as financial literacy lessons. It also introduced the disclosure portion of its site, where athletes can fill out paperwork to file NIL deals seven days in advance in compliance with Pennsylvania state law.
Each Temple varsity team has already sat in on an NIL presentation and each athlete has full access to the platform. On the app, they can also find themselves tagged in a library of pictures and videos predating NIL.
“Temple is able to measure the increased audience engagement coming from the much larger collective audience of those athletes and brand ambassadors,” according to the INFLCR.com website. “Temple plans to use this approach to bolster their online presence in a way that impacts event attendance, recruiting, fundraising, and other strategic goals.”
Temple announced the NBC Sports Athlete Direct opportunity for athletes in a joint release on April 19, which served as its first address about name, image and likeness since it had gone into effect.
Johnson was first introduced to the concept two weeks into his time at Temple when president Jason Wingard called him into his office.
Damon Phillips, a former Stanford football teammate of Wingard, was heading NBC’s new program and gauging Temple’s interest. Phillips, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at NBC Sports, designed the program to create a unique space connecting student athletes with advertisers.
If a Temple athlete chooses to do so, they can take the initiative to go to NBC’s website and fill out an interest form.
The pilot program will launch in the fall of 2022 for Temple, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame, creating opportunities to monetize social media followings and collaborate in content creation. It will also utilize CNBC to provide financial resources.
“There was one [other opportunity] that was presented to us,” Johnson said. “But they wanted it to be an exclusive deal. I said right now I’m not in a position and I don’t feel comfortable locking our student athletes in an exclusive deal.”
The only current restrictions hinder international students and students under the age of 18 from participating.
Temple set up a presentation with immigration lawyers for international students in the fall. Those students were referred to the International Students and Scholars Services Office and encouraged to take counsel from an immigration specialist before engaging in any NIL deals.
“Our support in helping [athletes] be the best brand ambassador they can be and portraying themselves in an authentic way on social media, using it as a tool, is something that we should be doing anyway,” Moss said. “The fact that because of NIL they can monetize that is just a bonus.”