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With new NIL partnership, FSU athletes will have chance to earn their worth

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An inside look at how INFLCR will work with FSU students and staff

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 11 Boston College at Florida State Photo by Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Originally published April 26

Florida State athletics made a huge announcement in April, making official a partnership with INFLCR, a content-creation platform that assists schools, programs and athletes in effectively monetizing and dispersing content.

“The cornerstone principle from the start of this process was to educate our student-athletes, and education plays a central role in every aspect of Apex,” FSU athletic director David Coburn said in a release announcing the statement. “We believe we are the only Power Five school in the nation that will offer two for-credit courses in NIL education. By partnering with the FSU College of Business, the Jim Moran Institute and INFLCR, we will provide a complete educational process from which our student-athletes will benefit immediately and throughout their lives.”

FSU’s approach to Florida’s upcoming Name, Image and Likeness bill that becomes law this summer is unique, with both the school’s Jim Moran Institute of Entrepreneurship and INFLCR partnering to offer a comprehensive approach to taking advantage of one’s personal brand. The company will offer branding opportuntities, in addition to compliance and overall education of the NIL process.

“What we tried to do is pick a platform that allowed us to pay for and use some elements that we’re comfortable we can use now and reserve the option to buy other elements in the future should they become permissible,” Coburn said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

Jim Cavale, CEO and founder of the company, got first-hand experience of the average college athletes’ life having played Division II baseball at the University of Montevallo. With these new laws and partnerships, he hopes to help athletes not just realize their worth while in college, but maximize their future, even if it’s beyond sports.

“As a former student-athlete thinking through the lens of the athlete, I really saw an opportunity to help athletes make the most of the attention they have during this short period of time they’re playing college ball,” Cavale said through an email interview with Tomahawk Nation.

“All the content [schools] shoot of athletes playing, practicing journeying through their career as a student-athlete is sent to our app, which facially recognizes every picture and video that’s uploaded by the school and organizes it in personalized galleries that live on the phones of each athlete so they can access that content and share it right from their influencer app to their Instagram, their Snapchat, their Twitter, whatever social media channels they use.”

“They also can see their metrics. So how much have they grown their followers their engagement of those followers on each social platform? What are some of the values based on market standards of their followers in social media stats?”

The challenge of changing NIL laws is that it doesn’t exactly offer direct compensation — rather, it’s on the athlete to put the work in to get paid, a process that Apex is intended to smooth over.

“Florida’s Intercollegiate Athlete Compensation and Rights bill goes into effect July 1, and from day one, we will be ready to assist our student-athletes in pursuing all the rights provided to them under the law,” said Coburn. “Apex is structured to allow student-athletes to maximize their NIL potential while in college and help them graduate with less debt, assist their families and prepare for the next chapter in their lives.”

One key aspect of the influencer career is effectively presenting an online narrative of oneself — for kids who are 18 years old and taking ENC1101, envisioning a fully realized professional marketing plan isn’t something that comes easily.

To assist in that, INFLCR will partner athletes with professional ones in Ted Talk-esque learning modules, intended to help them realize their brand and find the right way to tell it.

“Our storyteller playbook is an educational series with video modules and text modules on specific topics,” Cavale said. “It’s pro athletes, who understand what it’s like to be a student-athlete, who now building a brand as a pro that they’re making money off of, teaching student-athletes how to craft the story how to craft a message, how to tell their story in a way that’s going to resonate with a specific audience so they can connect better with their audience and grow it.

“We have tons of subject matter experts, men and women athletes, sports agencies, sports business folks teaching these lessons, and it’s a knowledge base. So if student-athletes have a specific topic they’re interested in learning more about they can search it and find video education on that or they get a new module every week sent to them. And they can consume it inside of the same influencer app that they’re getting content they can share of themselves to social media.”

FSU athletics also sit in a unique situation of being both a hub for international talent and sending its athletes to all corners of the world — one recent example being soccer player Denya Castellanos, who had millions of followers during her time in Tallahassee. With players both coming from abroad and heading there in their post-collegiate careers, Cavale sees an opportunity to emphasize personal brand earning potential.

“There’s opportunities in Tallahassee, in the ACC... but there’s also opportunities now back home, that you can couple your strategy with monetizing your name, image and likeness...there’s going to be a really big opportunity for Florida State student-athletes or international student-athletes to not only think about finding ways to capitalize here in America but definitely back home [and abroad].

Cavale, unfortunately, couldn’t guarantee a hush-hush deal to ensure that Florida State athletes will get way cooler sponsorship deals, but made sure to emphasize that the key to making this work is educating the athletes and enabling them to put the work in to earn their share.

“I think it really starts with educating your student-athletes on how to really work this process, and think about yourself as a business and teach them how to do that, and giving them a platform like INFLCR to do it more often. That’s going to take work, but INFLCR is going to allow that work to realize itself with more value.

“The more Florida State student-athletes put in that work, the more opportunity they have to be one of the most successful schools when it comes to their student-athletes monetizing their NIL.”