Syracuse Orange: New commercial NIL collective in ‘Cuse has big goals

Syracuse Orange (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Syracuse Orange (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images) /

A new commercial collective focused on name, image and likeness (“NIL”) opportunities for Syracuse Orange student-athletes has launched in Central New York.

The name of the collective is Orange United, and it is being managed by the Atlanta-based Student Athlete NIL (“SANIL”), which currently operates more than two-dozen commercial collectives nationwide and has more than 1,000 student-athletes under retainer contract.

Among the commercial collectives run by SANIL, within the Atlantic Coast Conference, are ones at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.

Jason Belzer, the founder of SANIL, said in a phone interview that Orange United has signed a deal with multi-media rights company LEARFIELD to be an official partner of, and the preferred collective for, SU Athletics.

A commercial collective has launched to support Syracuse Orange student-athletes.

Belzer says that he’s in the process of hiring a full-time manager for Orange United, and that manager will be based in Syracuse. This new commercial collective also has a board of directors in place, with nine people presently serving on it. Belzer says the board is comprised of the following individuals:
•Jim Cavale, former founder and CEO of INFLCR, current chairman of
•Joe Burton, former Syracuse football offensive guard, president of CoreOne Industrial
•Jackie Ferrari, founder and CEO of American Fashion Network
•Chedy Hampson, founder and former CEO of TCGplayer
•Keenan Hale, former Syracuse football wide receiver
•John Katko, former U.S. congressman from New York
•Dave Meluni, associate teaching professor of sport management at SU
•Justyn Knight, former Syracuse track and field national champion
•Karen Zajick, former point guard for Syracuse women’s basketball, president of Norris Sales Co.

Similar to other collectives that it manages, SANIL will focus on three components with Orange United as it gets underway in the Syracuse market. Those three things are:

•Drive members into the collective: Syracuse Orange fans can sign on for monthly memberships that will provide them with original content, events, merchandise and other items. Orange United ( has a digital platform where fans can connect with one another and interact with SU student-athletes. Belzer describes this as the “Netflix of SU sports.”

•Forge relationships with brand partners: This entails securing local, regional and national businesses that want to be a part of Orange United.

•Secure donors: Orange United will work to attract individual donors who want to contribute money to the collective, and then Orange United will use those funds to distribute as NIL payments to SU student-athletes through various endorsement deals.

Belzer says that Orange United will do NIL deals with all SU sports. “Everyone will benefit,” he says.

He adds that Orange United is in conversations with donors, brand partners and Syracuse Orange student-athletes, and now that the collective has launched, it can start to officially work on deals “immediately.”

Belzer believes that SU can be competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference. “Syracuse can be in the top quartile of the ACC,” he says. He cites that SU “owns the New York market,” has a wealthy alumni base, and possesses an extremely loyal fan base.

“We’re very excited to launch Orange United in Syracuse, and we have a lot of work ahead,” Belzer says. “We want to work with progressive universities and create a long-term value proposition for our student-athletes. That fits the ethos of Syracuse University leaders.”

The average annual budget at a commercial collective for football programs in the Power Four Conferences, Belzer says, is $2 million to $3 million. Leading men’s basketball programs have similar numbers.

The total market that he believes is attainable for Orange United in Syracuse is $6 million to $9 million annually, Belzer says. “That’s our goal,” he says.

The launch of Orange United in Syracuse is a big, big development. It’s been well-documented that in the spring, businessman and philanthropist Adam Weitsman elected to get out of the NIL game as it relates to Syracuse Orange sports.

Two 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, the 315 Foundation and Athletes Who Care, have been in operation to support SU student-athletes. However, the future status of non-profit collectives, generally speaking, remains up in the air, after the Internal Revenue Service issued a memo in early June stating that donations made to non-profit NIL collectives aren’t tax-exempt.

Belzer declined to comment on the status of the 315 Foundation and Athletes Who Care. He said that Weitsman isn’t involved in Orange United at present. Belzer added that he doesn’t believe Orange United has any significant competitors in the Syracuse area at this time.

In June, according to media reports, Syracuse University athletic director John Wildhack said that NIL efforts in Syracuse were “in a better place” than they were a few months before that.

As Belzer noted, Orange United has much work to do now that it has commenced operations in Syracuse. But the launch of this commercial collective, to me, is nothing but a huge positive for SU student-athletes moving forward.

Next. Syracuse Orange: Amid NIL era, record $45M in fundraising is encouraging. dark