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Penn State Progressing, but ‘2 Years Behind Everybody Else’ in NIL, per Franklin

Penn State ranking James Franklin Franco Harris
Penn State Athletics

Penn State fans and media have had much to say about name, image and likeness recently.

Most of it has been negative.

Some fans blame what they see as a lack of NIL initiative for Micah Shrewsberry no longer being the head basketball coach.

Sherewsberry left Penn State for Notre Dame last month after leading the school to its first NCAA Tournament win since 2001.

Months before his departure, Shrewsberry told Blue-White Illustrated’s Nate Bauer in an interview that he felt Penn State was either last or next to last among the 14 Big Ten schools in NIL progress.

After the football team’s Tuesday practice, coach James Franklin chatted with reporters about NIL. Without getting into specifics, said that Penn State’s lack of NIL progress played a part in Shrewsberry leaving for Notre Dame.

“I think we obviously just saw some decisions that weren’t completely made in the basketball program, but that (NIL) was a big part of it,” Franklin said. “We know that.”

NIL has been a legal part of college athletics since 2021. It’s 2023 now, and Franklin feels that Penn State has improved with NIL but started its improvements late.

“I think over the last year, we’ve made significant progress,” Franklin said. “But if you give somebody a two-year head start in a basically three-year model, I think it’s (the result) pretty obvious.”

Not everybody agrees with Franklin and Shrewsberry on Penn State’s NIL. 

Penn State trustee Jay Paterno has been outspoken recently in his defense of Penn State’s NIL efforts. Days after Shrewsberry agreed to leave Penn State for Notre Dame, Paterno tweeted a staunch defense about Penn State basketball’s NIL initiative. This defense which received criticism from fans and, most notably, Penn State football great Michael Mauti.

More recently, on the Penn State 365 Podcast this week, Paterno disputed Shrewsberry’s claim that Penn State was either at or near the bottom in basketball NIL.

“There is no way for him to know that,” Paterno said, “because these numbers aren’t disclosed publicly.”

Overall, Penn State fans should be encouraged by Franklin’s words Tuesday. They should be further inspired by the “Lions Legacy Club.” It’s a football-specific NIL collective formed by former players Mauti, Ki-Jana Carter and Chris Ganter. But, if indeed Penn State was behind with NIL, the effects from that late start are still being felt now and could be for a while. 

“We’ve still got a ton of work to do,” Franklin said. “We started out that first couple years where we said we were going to teach student-athletes how to be entrepreneurs. That was our NIL model. So we were two years behind everybody else.”

Nittany Sports Now recently talked with the CEO of Penn State’s primary NIL collective, “Success With Honor,” Mark Toniatti. Toniatti told NSN that the collective continues to “work every day with the football program.”

 “We have a number of players under contract,” he said, “and we continue to work with them. Again, that’s a top, top priority for us. There are three sources of revenue for Success With Honor. One is subscriptions. By just going on and logging into the website and becoming a subscriber. You could subscribe at various dollar amounts per month. It’s a monthly subscription. And you’ll receive a number of benefits by being a subscriber. The other is finding individual donors, those who can make substantial donations to the organization, and the third is through companies and corporations that would want to work with us as well.”

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