SBJ College: Cardinale Talks Athlete NIL


– Getting the name, image and likeness rights to college athletes isn’t why Gerry Cardinale invested $125 million into OneTeam, a new business formed in conjunction with the NFL and MLB players’ associations. But he told me earlier today that OneTeam is best positioned to aggregate the marketing rights for college players if someday they’re able to monetize their NIL. “It’s easier said than done,” said Cardinale, founder of RedBird Capital. “When I talk to people in the industry, everybody says this is going to take a while to sort out. I don’t disagree with that.”

– College player rights have lots of potential, even in their most basic form, Cardinale said. “The question is how much can you really do with it? You can have appearances and some sponsorships — stuff that we take for granted today in the professional setting. But I’m kind of curious. That’s the low-hanging fruit, but that in and of itself will be new for that ecosystem.”

– Cardinale’s background includes funding ventures like YES NetworkLegends and On Location Experiences, so he knows how to spot a startup opportunity when the marketplace shows demand. If college athletes, by virtue of the courts, legislation or the NCAA, are permitted to monetize their own NIL rights, OneTeam will be uniquely positioned to help athletes with group licensing. Based on current legislation, neither the schools, conferences nor NCAA would be able to work with athletes on marketing their rights, creating an opportunity for third parties — whether that’s OneTeam or some other entity.

– OneTeam’s plan is to work with the National College Players Association to sign players to a comprehensive group licensing program. The NCPA, founded by former UCLA linebacker and athlete advocate Ramogi Huma, will be the boots on the ground, so to speak. Cardinale: “We can also be extremely helpful here in trailblazing. We’re going to do a lot here with all of these organized professional player groups (at OneTeam). What we learn should be very instructive for the college guys, and I’m looking forward to getting into those discussions as we move this along.”