USC announces partnership with third-party media company to lead NIL efforts
An NIL program with no equal.
That’s what USC head coach Lincoln Riley believes the Trojans have found with the announcement from the program on Wednesday that it has partnered with the media company Stay Doubted. The group has created a subsidiary—BLVD LLC—that will represent USC student-athlete in seeking NIL opportunities and help to facilitate deals.
“This agreement and the creation of BLVD are an absolute difference-maker for both our current and future student-athletes,” Riley said in a release. “There is simply nothing else like this in our sport. Combining BLVD with the significant advantages of being in Los Angeles provides an NIL program that will have no equal.”
Added women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb: “I want to be at the forefront of the changing landscape of collegiate athletics. With our agreement with Stay Doubted and BLVD, USC has declared itself a leader in the NIL realm.”
The Trojans have been no stranger to the effects of an open-range Name, Image, and Likeness market on college athletics. Riley’s football program in particular has purportedly been burned by the landscape and aided by it. In April, when USC lost a high-profile recruiting battle with Oregon at the buzzer for 5-star offensive lineman Josh Conerly Jr., it was believed the Ducks’ NIL operation played a role. Then, in May when the Trojans secured Pitt transfer wideout Jordan Addison, social media ran rampant with discredited allegations that USC lured Addison with NIL moment.
Until Wednesday, USC had nothing like this and there was no collective hovering around, as are popping up with programs all over the country.
“From the moment the NCAA revised its rules regarding the use of NIL, President Carol L. Folt encouraged me to develop the best NIL support program in the nation for our student-athletes consistent with our vision to be the most student-athlete-centered program in the country,” said USC athletic director Mike Bohn. “We offer dozens of services to support all aspects of the student-athlete experience: coaching, medical, academic, nutrition, strength training, sports psychology, career planning, and so many more. NIL is a new dimension of the student-athlete experience, and we want to provide best-in-class services to our student-athletes in this area as we do all others.
“I am grateful to President Folt for her leadership and guidance as we developed this program. We have patiently studied the NIL environment both within our program and nationally to inform our decision-making. We believe every student-athlete should have access to NIL support resources and currently only about 3% of our student-athletes have engaged professional service providers. We strive to support our student-athletes in all ways, including in the NIL space. We are thrilled to be able to meet this need and make these resources available through a qualified and reputable third party for our student-athletes should they wish to take advantage.”
Stay Doubted’s portfolio is impressive. It has brand partnerships with companies like Amazon, Microsoft, State Farm, Verizon, and lululemon, and claims to manage over $63 million in sports partnerships, including more than $1 million in collegiate athlete partnerships in the first year of the NIL era.
It plans to dedicate seven full-time employees to BLVD LLC, which will exclusively assist USC student-athletes.
The Trojans say this opportunity will be available to every student-athlete on campus. They’ll be able to opt into non-exclusive NIL representation through BLVD. USC will have no involvement in any agreements that come from that partnership.
Opportunities will range from sponsorships to promotions, events, and/or merchandise. BLVD says it’ll also create content centered around USC student-athletes and their stories to be shared on various platforms. It’ll also create a membership-like service for fans to facilitate things like event appearances and autograph signings.
“We are pumped to have been part of such an aggressive, innovative approach from its inception and look forward to seeing USC excel with our continued support and guidance,” said Celine Mangan, a senior account executive for Altius Sports Partners, a consulting firm that advised USC throughout the creation of this new agreement. “This is a revolutionary model, and I’m confident others will follow.”
BLVD will officially launch later this summer.
Said USC’s Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief of Staff Brandon Sosna: “From day one, we have strongly held the belief that there is no better place in the country than USC and Los Angeles for student-athletes to be successful in the NIL era,” said Brandon Sosna, USC’s chief of staff until just recently when he was hired by the Detroit Lions for a front office role.
“… We believe we have the most strategic and sustainable NIL support program in the country for our student-athletes.”