UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (WTAJ) — Name, image and likeness (NIL) collective Lions Legacy Club announced a seven figure deal Thursday.
The two year agreement makes West Short Home, and MITER Brands the “official presenting sponsor” of the collective, a group that works exclusively with Penn State football.
“As a business leader, I focus on building scalable and sustainable programs. As an alumnus, Penn State football and its future success is near and dear to me,” said B.J. Werzyn, President and CEO, West Shore Home in a release.
The timing of the announcement, a massive influx in NIL financing, is quite intentional as Penn State football heads into its biggest weekend of the offseason. The annual Blue White game will bring tens of thousands of fans to Happy Valley and will give the program a chance to showcase itself in front of fans and donors, engaging the later is increasingly important.
“It’s going to be getting people to support that vision and jump on board with us through fundraising and those types of things,” head football coach James Franklin said Tuesday. “I think Penn State has, and wants to again, be able to provide a first-class experience for the student-athletes. They’ve done that for a long time, and there’s just some things we need to tweak and get back right. It’s become a little bit of an arms race in college football if you look at what’s going on, and we want to be a part of that.”
That arms race is no longer just facilities and coaching salaries, NIL is a massive player in recruitment and a topic coach Franklin has been critical of, iterating that Penn State has fallen behind the curve.
“We started out the first couple of years where we said we were going to teach student athletes how to be entrepreneurs. That was our initial model. So we were two years behind everybody else. I think over the last year we’ve made significant progress,” he said.
“But what I’ve been doing is instead of talking to you guys about it, I’ve been we’ve been working to try to solve it as much as we possibly can by going out, educating the fan base and the donors about what we’re truly competing against.”
Penn State has two NIL collectives, Lions Legacy Club, and the Jay Paterno founded Success with Honor.
Success with Honor is the university’s preferred collective as it works with all 31 varsity programs, but the group fell under scrutiny this spring in the wake of Micah Shrewsberry’s departure from the basketball program. A lack of NIL support blamed, in part, for the loss.