Gary Patterson previews harsh realities of the NIL era at open house event


Gary Patterson, who announced his departure from the TCU football program on Oct. 31, 2021, was the Frogs’ all-time winningest coach over his 21 years leading the program. (Cristian ArguetaSoto/Staff Photographer)

By Ryan Bunnell

Since Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation began on July 1, 2021, the university has already signed a partnership with OpenDorse and has now announced a partnership with the Neeley School of Business titled “Scaled to Succeed” in its attempts to improve its recruiting value and educate student-athletes.

Coaches, TCU trustees and numerous local business owners gathered in the new Legends Club & Suites section of Amon G. Carter Stadium for the NIL open house event last week.

“The NIL Movement provides an opportunity for TCU Athletics to position the young men and women in our program to build their personal brands for a lifetime of success,” said TCU Athletics Director Jeremiah Donati. “When change inevitably comes, I’m confident that we are positioned to provide the best possible education and resources available for student-athlete development.”

OpenDorse, a tech company focused on building individual brands and serving as a portal for all NIL activity, provides athletes with tips such as how to market themselves and how to put a price on their personal brand.

Meanwhile, the “Scaled to Succeed” partnership with Neeley will provide student-athletes on campus with numerous resources such as brand building workshops, courses on financial literacy and access to Neeley’s Activation Network.

Aside from simply introducing and explaining what all TCU has done and will be doing for their student-athletes regarding potential NIL avenues, this event also focused on some harsh realities.

Harsh realities

During the coaches panel, Gary Patterson, Raegan Pebley, Jill Kramer, Jamie Dixon and newly appointed Kirk Saarloos discussed what they have seen from their athletes thus far and what needs to be done to put TCU in a position to succeed.

Head Football Coach Gary Patterson was brutally honest when answering questions.

“The bottom line is I could lose 25 to 30 guys by January if we don’t get going by at least November. At the end of the day we’re going to have to move faster,” said Patterson.

Patterson’s concerns stem from the fact that larger, more established programs are beginning to promise recruits NIL deals for attending their university. 

“Players recruit players. When a kid calls, ‘Well, how are they taking care of you?’ If they don’t say they’re giving me this then the kid is not going to come. Players recruit players,” said Patterson.

Although no TCU Football player has signed a major NIL quite yet, according to reports, programs nationwide are beginning to capitalize on the opportunity in front of them.

Michigan State signed a team-wide NIL deal with United Wholesale Mortgage, which pays all athletes on the men’s football and men’s basketball teams $500 a month. In return, the athletes must promote UWM on their social media pages.

On an individual level, the NIL era has affected highly touted talent such as Ohio State’s Quinn Ewers. Originally the No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2022, Ewers decided to forgo his senior season at Southlake Carroll High School under the promise of signing a seven-figure NIL deal.

Patterson expressed that it’s important to remember the socio-economic status of a lot of the athletes these programs are recruiting. Now that money is an option for these athletes, many of them will do what’s best for their personal situation rather than what is in the university’s best interest.

“I’ve got a lot of guys that love being at TCU, but they love their family more,” said Patterson.

Head baseball coach Kirk Saarloos also touched on the possibility of losing current players and potential recruits.

“Those kids that we’re losing are getting guarantees,” said Saarloos. “They’re saying, ‘Our fans love baseball more than any conference in the country, and we guarantee you’ll get at least $1,000 a month’.”

There are still a lot of variables in the realm of Name, Image and Likeness, but one thing that’s certain is that TCU is doing everything it can to ensure student-athletes are educated on their personal branding, as well as setting them up for future business endeavors.