Loyola Men’s Basketball Secures First-of-a-Kind Deal with NBC Sports Chicago

The Loyola men’s basketball team (8-14, 2-8) has reaped many benefits from name, image and likeness (NIL) deals, but has most recently secured a first-of-its-kind deal with NBC Sports Chicago through NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

After nearly two years of the name, image and likeness (NIL) NCAA policy implementation, the Loyola men’s basketball team (8-14, 2-8) is reaping the benefits from multiple deals individually and through the athletics department. The team has brought in deals such as Mini Jerzeys and Fanatics, but most recently secured a first-of-its-kind deal with NBC Sports Chicago. 

In August 2021, former Loyola center Cameron Krutwig was the first Rambler to secure an NIL deal with Mini Jerzeys, an organization which allows individual Loyola athletes to profit off the sale of their own jerseys. Former Loyola guard Lucas Williamson was the next Rambler to join Krutwig at Mini Jerzeys, followed by Head Coach Drew Valentine and redshirt senior guard Braden Norris. 

Now, almost all members of the men’s basketball team have their own NIL deals, ranging from the team’s latest NBC Sports Chicago deal to photoshoots with local photographers. 

Tom Soboro, senior associate athletics director of external operations, helps all Loyola athletes with their respective NIL deals, providing them training with negotiations and financial literacy but said athletes are in charge of facilitating their own deals due to NCAA regulations. 

“We can be involved in getting people connected, we cannot negotiate on behalf of the student athletes,” Sorboro said. “We try to provide education. It’s largely on them to try and find some information through the resources we’re providing.” 

Sorboro said once companies reach out to athletes about partnering for a deal, the athlete then has the responsibility of notifying the athletics departments’ compliance office which will either approve or deny the deal making sure it’s within the realm of NIL rules, and thereafter the athlete is allowed to move forward with the partnership. Sorboro said since the deals are between the student-athletes and the brands they work with, Loyola Athletics isn’t able to share any financial information about the deals. 

One player in particular has had multiple NIL deals, including one at his former school — Butler University. Graduate center Bryce Golden said he was in his senior year at Butler when he was first able to profit off of NIL and his first endeavor was selling “Bryce and Bryce” t-shirts with former teammate Bryce Nze. Golden said the shirts were popular among fans and students and the opportunity opened his eyes to the possibilities he can have through NIL. 

Junior forward Philip Alston has also taken advantage of NIL deals since transferring to Loyola from California University of Pennsylvania, including a photoshoot with Andrew Hancock at the 167 Green Street basketball court alongside Norris, junior center Jacob Hutson and former forward Saint Thomas. 

“It gives you a little more excitement that you’re able to make money in school, because we can’t have jobs with how much time basketball takes,” Alston said of the opportunities. “Just being able to make money off your name, it’s something that’s exciting, especially being in school.” 

Both Golden and Alston recently secured another NIL deal alongside their team with NBC Sports Chicago, which was released to the public via Instagram Feb. 1 by individual men’s basketball players.

The deal, which according to Sorboro was offered by NBC Sports Athlete Direct to the entire team, is the first of its kind including a subscription service providing users access to a podcast featuring Alston, Golden, senior forward Tom Welch and redshirt first-year Ben Schwieger, along with an autographed team photo and a virtual meet and greet with the the players at the end of the season. 

The subscription is a one-time, $29.99 purchase, which, according to Sorboro, is split throughout the team, unless a subscriber uses a player-specific code, to which then that individual player receives a percentage. 

Sorboro said NBC worked directly with the team to pick players who would record the podcast and the four players featured on the podcast due to scheduling around class and practice times. 

“We talked about the season, our trip to France, random things, too,” Golden said. “It was fun sitting in a unique setting outside the locker room, outside the court with your team and talking about things that you’ve been through and reflecting on those experiences and seeing how far you came from all those, too.”

Alston also said he enjoyed the process of recording the podcast, especially because of the venue at the NBC tower, which they were able to get a tour of before recording. Alston said the podcast was a little uncomfortable at first, but said Golden — the host of the podcast — did a nice job of making everyone comfortable, and it ended up being a fun experience. 

Featured image courtesy of Loyola Athletics

Gabbi Lumma

Gabbi Lumma