Syracuse Orange: Orange United launches $500K campaign to fund NIL

Syracuse Orange (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse Orange (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Hey, Syracuse Orange fans, you can play an important role in a new $500,000 fundraising campaign launched by the preferred NIL collective of SU Athletics.

Orange United, a commercial collective focused on name, image and likeness (“NIL”) opportunities for Syracuse Orange student-athletes in all ‘Cuse sports, commenced its operations in mid-September, and it has big plans in Central New York.

The collective recently kicked off a matching campaign to raise $500,000 to support SU student-athletes. The six-week campaign, which runs through December 11, is designed to encourage Syracuse Orange fans to purchase annual or monthly Orange United subscriptions, which will give fans access to content and other opportunities.

Orange United has five different levels of membership subscriptions. In this new campaign, subscriptions purchased at the $25 level or higher will be matched dollar for dollar by a group of SU alumni donors, up to $250,000, and those subscriptions will be upgraded to the next tier for a year.

Atlanta-based Student Athlete NIL (“SANIL”) manages Orange United, which has signed a deal with multi-media rights company LEARFIELD to be an official partner of, and the preferred collective for, SU Athletics.

Orange United has launched a $500,000 campaign to fund NIL deals for Syracuse Orange players.

I recently caught up with Mark Hayes, the general manager of Orange United, by phone to discuss this new matching campaign. He says that about $260,000 has been raised by separate donors to match, hopefully, around $250,000 in subscriptions purchased by ‘Cuse fans.

Hayes notes that this newly launched matching campaign is “the first of many major fundraising campaigns” by Orange United.

With this first matching campaign, and as Orange United gets further entrenched in the Syracuse-area community, a critical point is to raise awareness and education as to what Orange United is all about, and how fan support will benefit ‘Cuse student-athletes, according to Hayes.

While Hayes and his colleagues are also hard at work to secure partnerships with businesses as well as land large investments from individual donors, a huge component of Orange United is getting Syracuse Orange fans to sign on for monthly or annual membership subscriptions.

Fans don’t have to donate $5,000 or $20,000, Hayes says. “We want to let people know they can make a difference, by pulling all these fan memberships together.”

With those subscriptions, fans have access to content and other engagement opportunities, and those dollars go into the collective to help fund NIL deals for student-athletes across all ‘Cuse sports.

Hayes says that Orange United plans to contract with 50-75 student-athletes across every Syracuse Orange sport where players will provide posts on social media on how ‘Cuse fans can support this $500,000 matching campaign.

A month into his new role, Hayes, a former long-time Syracuse Crunch executive, says he’s seeing positive momentum with Orange United. To reiterate, awareness and education of what Orange United is trying to do are key, in particular to help attract brand partners from the business community.

Jason Belzer, the founder of SANIL, has told me in the past that Orange United has a goal of raising $6 million to $9 million annually to fund NIL deals with ‘Cuse players. Hayes says he’s hoping to reach, or exceed, that goal “within a year.”

He adds, “There’s a lot of really good conversations happening.”

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