Blue White Illustrated

September 2021

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 36 of 75

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 1 3 7 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M When the NCAA abandoned its NIL restrictions, Penn State was prepared. That same day, the university announced an initiative called "STATEment." The idea behind the program, according to a PSU news release, was to "build upon the life skills education which had previously been provided by the Student-Athlete Welfare and Development staff when students arrived at Penn State. STATE- ment's educational focus will be on brand building, social media responsibility, fi- nancial literacy, professionalism, media training, interest and values assessment, diversity and inclusion, and alumni and industry relationships." The university will be using the apps INFLCR and Spry to help athletes pro- mote themselves without running afoul of the NIL limits that remain in ef- fect. INFLCR assists athletes in maximiz- ing their social media platforms, while Spry is aimed at ensuring that schools and athletes remain in compliance. Barbour said Penn State's focus would be on using NIL opportunities as a way of building on the life-skills training that it was already doing. "Our 'why' has always been preparing our students for a lifetime of impact," she said, "and this new opportunity will allow them to explore entrepreneurship and develop skills which they will carry with them long beyond their time at Penn State. "For many years, we've had a compre- hensive educational program for our stu- dents when they arrive on campus, and STATEment's educational components are an extension of that program. "We want to inspire our students' en- trepreneurial spirit and help them un- derstand the impact their brand has us- ing enhanced education as key part of STATEment." But for all the high-minded and well- intentioned rhetoric of their news re- leases, there's a hard, cold reality upon which everything else rests when it comes to every school's approach to NIL issues: Athletes want to get paid. They may want the life skills, too, but they want to capitalize on their college stardom. They want someone to show them the money. It didn't take long for that to start hap- pening at Penn State. In July, six football players signed on with YOKE Gaming, a company that gives customers an oppor- tunity to play video games with athletes. The players who signed on with YOKE were Smith, redshirt senior defensive tackle Fred Hansard, sophomore line- backer Curtis Jacobs, redshirt sophomore quarterback Ta'Quan Roberson, redshirt sophomore safety Tyler Rudolph and se- nior defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo. In addition, Clifford signed with Quar- terback Takeover, an apparel company that will produce T-shirts bearing his likeness. He also is promoting McLa- nahan's in State College and has joined the social media network Cameo, as has women's basketball player Anna Camden. Effner is promoting a snack food de- livery company called Gopuff, and four athletes — Erin Triandafils and Sydney Wolfington of women's lacrosse, Mi- kayla Lantto of women's ice hockey and national championship wrestler Roman Bravo-Young — are promoting Barstool Athletics. Bravo-Young has also auc- tioned off match-worn wrestling shoes. Most athletes aren't destined for long professional careers and are never going to be more marketable than when they're in college. That includes most football and basketball players. But even athletes who do figure to have a shot at pro stardom are eager to make a little money while they're still in college. "This is a huge opportunity for my- self and all the student-athletes here at Penn State to get a head start in life — not only in athletics, but in our careers," Dot- son said. "Being a student at Penn State means being part of a community that always moves us up and shows us all the support in the world." ■ James Frankin described NIL as a long-overdue acknowledgement of the need to treat athletes like regular students regarding entrepreneurialism. PHOTO BY MARK SELDERS/PENN STATE ATHLETICS

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