Since it launched back in 2018, the company’s mission has been to provide the needed resources to entrepreneurs and startups in the Waco and McLennan County community. It believes the same goal can be accomplished in the name, image and likeness space.
And on Monday, the 501(c)(3) delivered contracts for the team-wide NIL deal to Baylor players. While the full details of the contract were not disclosed to On3, sources said the total amount of cash given to the athletes will be in the seven figures. All 112 members of the team will be allowed to opt-in.
In exchange for payment, players will promote Start Up Waco’s GXG Exchange on their social media platforms. The program aims to connect Baylor student-athletes with NIL opportunities using the nonprofit’s partnership with Progage. The sports marketing agency based in Dallas loads NIL deals onto the exchange from a range of companies.
“When I found out that the laws in Texas are very different than other states where the school kind of has their hand tied in a lot of aspects, I approached my partner and basically said, ‘Hey, man, this could be an area where we can actually really help the athletes,'” Jacob Kehoe, who serves as Start Up Waco’s assistant director and capital access manager, told On3. “That’s how it started. We didn’t set out to be a collective. We weren’t founded on the goal of passing through money.
“Our goal really is, at the end of the day, we want to see the student-athletes actually start businesses and launch brands.”
Texas Senate Bill No. 1385 is one of the most restrictive NIL state laws in the nation. Provisions in the act prevent athletes from using school logos.
More details on team-wide NIL deal
A few donors have stepped forward to help fund the initiative, but not all the cash is coming from the group of boosters. Start Up Waco also has a range of partnerships, from the City of Waco to the Magnolia Foundation to Wells Fargo.
The GXG page currently accepts donations, which are tax-deductible because of Start Up Waco’s 501(c)(3) status. Kehoe told On3 all the cash raised through the program is going directly to directly athletes or future any future NIL projects.
There are also plans in the works to eventually strike team-wide deals with every Baylor athletic program. Partnering with non-profits for NIL activities could also be a possibility.
Team-wide deals becoming more popular in Big 12 footprint
When discussing the ins and outs of the deal, Kehoe pointed toward partnerships at SMU and Texas Tech setting the framework for what a strong team-wide deal looks like.
SMU’s Boulevard Collective quickly became one of the biggest players in the space in August. It announced plans to pay players on both the football and basketball teams $36,000 a year — a total payout of $3.5 million annually — for NIL activity.
And at Texas Tech, Level 13 Agency committed $25,000 per player to Texas Tech women’s basketball. In a growing landscape where cash is king, securing compensation is not a problem. But questions of how much are starting to become true dealbreakers in recruiting. Public, team-wide deals can provide those answers.
Start Up Waco’s partnership with Baylor
Monday’s move into the NIL space is not Start Up Waco’s first interaction with Baylor. The nonprofit struck a deal with Baylor athletics through Learfield earlier this month. The sponsorship with the Bears includes a digital presence on BaylorBears.com, social media messaging and e-mail marketing.
It also serves in part as a licensing deal. The nonprofit will be able to use Baylor’s logos and marks.
“We’re proud to welcome Startup Waco into our corporate partner family associated with Baylor Athletics,” Baylor Bear Sports Properties general manager Matt Iazzetti said when the new came out. “We know they’re an organization committed to doing good for the university as well as the greater Waco community. We are honored that Startup Waco, with its philanthropic mission, strategically chose Baylor as an area for its brand expansion.”