Syracuse Orange faces challenges, can compete on NIL in ACC – experts

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /
4 of 5

One collective versus multiple collectives

DeSorbo and Bristol say that they are awaiting a final determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service, and if that letter has a positive outcome, it would enable donations made to the 315 Foundation to be tax deductible on a permanent basis. That’s something to monitor.

There is another potential challenge that the 315 Foundation and Athletes Who Care may face. Last fall, two U.S. senators introduced legislation that “would prohibit individuals, organizations, and collectives from using charitable tax deductions for designated contributions that compensate collegiate student athletes or incoming collegiate athletes for the use of their NIL.”

For this story, I also spoke with Jason Belzer, the founder of the Atlanta-based Student Athlete NIL (“SANIL”), which currently operates more than 25 collectives around the country and serves as the employer of more than 1,000 student-athletes.

Collectives under the SANIL umbrella support schools such as Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Creighton, among others.

Belzer’s organization operates commercial collectives, rather than nonprofit collectives, so his perspective is different than that of the 315 Foundation co-founders.

Not speaking specifically about NIL efforts surrounding the Syracuse Orange, from his experience, Belzer says the most successful NIL programs at a particular school have one unified voice, rather than multiple collectives with potentially competing interests in operation, as well as individual wealthy donors doing NIL deals on their own.

I want to make clear that when talking to me, Belzer was not directing any of his comments at Adam Weitsman or any other individual. Belzer did say that from his perspective, it’s the “exception, not the norm” for wealthy individuals to forge NIL agreements on their own, rather than through a collective.

“You want one entity, one well-oiled operation, coming together,” Belzer says, adding that if an individual donor wants to do specific NIL deals in specific sports, that can be rolled into a collective.

Again, not speaking specifically about the Syracuse Orange, but Belzer did say that nonprofit collectives are limited in regard to the hourly and total compensation that they can provide as NIL income to student-athletes.

That can put a school like SU at a disadvantage, Belzer says. He notes that the Syracuse Orange could benefit from having a commercial collective in operation supporting SU players, but he declined to comment when I asked him whether SANIL might end up having a collective of its own in Central New York.