It is no secret that collegiate athletics are changing, and Texas A&M sports fans recognize that fact. As name, image, and likeness compensation (NIL) becomes a bigger and bigger factor in this brave new world of college football, basketball, etc., we’ve seen a growing number of schools—or, more specifically, groups and foundations associated with schools—rush to bring together different types of organized structures to focus their NIL efforts in order to maximize effect. Despite the perception of Texas A&M as a leader in this space (stemming from now-debunked rumors surrounding the 2022 football recruiting class), there was yet to be such a structure—until today.
According to the website, “the 12th Man+ Fund was established to further the 12th Man Foundation’s mission while enhancing the student-athlete experience at Texas A&M through name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities.” Donors have the ability to give to a general fund or to a specific sport, with both one-time and recurring donation options.
Benefits are provided to donors as well: gifts like window decals and a subscription to 12th Man Foundation magazine are included in some of the lower giving tiers, while higher tiers include things like invitations to annual NIL events and “Exclusive Gear.”
It is important to note, however, that “The Foundation’s NIL-related activities are not conducted on behalf of Texas A&M University or Texas A&M Athletics at any time,” as the website says. Universities are not allowed, under NCAA rules, to conduct NIL-related activities directly. The only involvement they are allowed to have is to ensure compliance, which the Foundation will coordinate with the university.
This was a move that, in my opinion, those associated with Texas A&M Athletics have needed to make for some time. I’ve written before about how it wasn’t NIL that got the Aggies that legendary 2022 class, and insiders such as Billy Liucci have made mention before of the fact that A&M has, in fact, lagged a bit behind in certain NIL efforts—though, as evidenced by this and other recent developments, they’ve begun to get things in order on that front.
You have to be an innovator to stay at the front of the ever-changing world of collegiate athletics. This type of fund will soon become standard (barring a massive rule change), so it was imperative that the Aggie donors made this move. Here’s hoping it begins to bear results sooner rather than later.