Myles Brennan bids Baton Rouge adieu; Now what happens with his NIL money?
Myles Brennan is far from the first athlete to walk away from the game of football, and he certainly is not the last. Following an arm injury in fall 2022, the third career-altering injury of his career, Brennan—national champion, sixth-year senior, and former backup quarterback to Heisman winner Joe Burrow—retired from the sport. [ii]He enjoyed a successful career at LSU, being named the starter in 2020 before being sidelined for the season after only three games. [iii]
In the run-up to the 2021 season, Brennan was once again the presumed starter at LSU, a perennial Top 25 football program. [iv] He put this well-founded publicity to good use and took advantage of the evolving Name, Image, and Likeness (“NIL”) landscape, signing deals with a Baton Rouge car dealership, Raising Canes, Smoothie King, and more. [v]There are no public figures available for each NIL deal signed by Brennan, but the Ford F-250 he received from Hollingsworth Ford alone retails for nearly $40,000. [vi][vii] On-3, an NIL database, estimates that at the time of his retirement, Brennan had an NIL valuation of $327,000. [viii]
Brennan’s off-the-field contracts never aligned with on-the-field success. In fact, after signing a multitude of NIL deals in the summer of 2021, Brennan never touched a football field in uniform again. [ix]In the fall of 2021, he was injured in a fishing accident, and following his arm injury in August of 2022, he officially retired with more NIL deals signed than games started. [x]
The NCAA states that its policy “preserves the commitment to avoid pay-for-play and improper inducements tied to choosing to attend a particular school.” [xi] As a result of this policy, Brennan was tied directly to his NIL deals, and is therefore entitled to compensation regardless of any eventual transfer, or in his case, retirement. [xii]The NCAA’s commitment to the amateurism of collegiate athletics places greater responsibility on the companies that sponsor student-athletes to ensure that their financial investments will remain directed at the proper target audience. Hollingsworth Ford, as a Baton Rouge based car dealership, would be dependent upon Brennan remaining at LSU for their sponsorship to remain impactful.
Hollingsworth Ford is not the only company to sponsor an athlete who suddenly left a university.[xiii]Former Ohio State—and current Texas—quarterback, Quinn Ewers, signed a NIL deal with GT Sports Marketing for $1.4 million dollars, in the fall before his freshman year. [xiv]At the time, Ewers was supposed to be a senior in high school; he left early to enroll at Ohio State to make money through NIL, because Texas does not permit high school athletes to earn money using their likeness. [xv]A mere four months after signing this historic deal, Ewers was in the transfer portal, slated to return to his home state of Texas. [xvi]While GT Sports is a national advertising agency, any advertising effort specifically targeted to Ohio State fans became worthless when Ewers transferred to Texas.
These deals, while substantive, both pale in the face of one signed by a current high school senior—Jaden Rashada. [xvii] Rashada, a 5-star quarterback in the class of 2023, committed to the University of Miami on June 26th. [xviii]Less than a week later, it was reported that he had already signed an NIL deal, worth a record-shattering $9.5 million, with Miami based attorney John Ruiz. [xix]While there is certainly no proof of a pay-for-play inducement from Ruiz to Rashada, it is equally certain that the deal offered by Ruiz would not exist if Rashada had chosen to play football elsewhere. Rashada allegedly turned down even higher offers when he committed to Miami, but there are no available details on specific figures. [xx] He is unable to sign a National Letter of Intent, which binds him to his verbal commitment to Miami, until December 21st, yet he has signed an NIL deal based, at least in part, on that verbal commitment. [xxi] An unexpected injury or sudden decommitment would mean that Rashada walks away while entitled to payment in full. Even though the foundation of the deal evaporates, the NCAA’s commitment to avoid pay-for-play inducements means it cannot be rescinded.
While Brennan, Ewers, and Rashada serve as brilliant examples for how young, aspiring athletes can cash in (literally) on their athletic abilities, they should also serve as warning signs for businesses interested in sponsoring those same athletes. These collegiate athletes are young men and women whose situations change constantly for many reasons: injury, transfers, decommitments. And when they leave, the money goes with them.
References: [i] Michael Bonnette. LSU Quarterback Myles Brennan Decides to End College Career. (16 August 2022) https://crescentcitysports.com/lsu-quarterback-myles-brennan-decides-to-end-college-career/. [ii] Joe Rivera. Why did Myles Brennan leave LSU? Longtime Tigers QB steps away from football, ends career to start ‘new chapter.’ (15 August 2022) https://www.sportingnews.com/us/ncaa-football/news/myles-brennan-leave-lsu-tigers-qb-ends-career/omzebyqwhqyalkgouet1y95v [iii] Id. [iv] Id. [v] Darrelle Lincoln. Myles Brennan Gets To Keep All NIL Money He Signed With 5 Different Companies After Announcing Retirement. (16 August 2022) https://www.totalprosports.com/2022/08/16/myles-brennan-gets-to-keep-all-nil-money-he-signed-with-5-different-companies-after-announcing-retirement/ [vi] Crissy Froyd. LSU QB Myles Brennan makes NIL deal with local car dealership. (31 July 2022) https://lsutigerswire.usatoday.com/2021/07/31/lsu-football-qb-myles-brennan-makes-nil-deal-with-local-car-dealership/ [vii] Ford. 2022 Ford Super Duty. https://www.ford.com/trucks/super-duty/ [viii] https://www.on3.com/college/lsu-tigers/news/darren-rovell-details-how-myles-brennan-retirement-will-affect-his-nil-deals-lsu-tigers/ [ix] Chandler Vessels. Darren Rovell details how Myles Brennan’s retirement will affect his NIL Deals. (15 August 2022) https://www.actionnetwork.com/ncaaf/lsu-qb-myles-brennans-retirement-could-slow-speed-breadth-of-nil-deals-across-college-football [x] Darren Rovell. LSU QB Myles Brennan’s Retirement Could Slow Speed, Breadth of NIL Deals Across College Football. (15 August 2022) https://www.actionnetwork.com/ncaaf/lsu-qb-myles-brennans-retirement-could-slow-speed-breadth-of-nil-deals-across-college-football [xi] Michelle Hosick. NCAA adopts interim name, image and likeness policy. (30 June 2021) https://www.ncaa.org/news/2021/6/30/ncaa-adopts-interim-name-image-and-likeness-policy.aspx [xii] https://www.actionnetwork.com/ncaaf/lsu-qb-myles-brennans-retirement-could-slow-speed-breadth-of-nil-deals-across-college-football [xiii] Rovell, Supra. [xiv] Tom VanHaaren. Ohio State Buckeyes QB Quinn Ewers has NIL deal for $1.4 million, source says. (31 August 2021) https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32120440/ohio-state-buckeyes-qb-quinn-ewers-nil-deal-14-million-source-says [xv] Id. [xvi] Paul Kasabian. Report: OSU’s Quinn Ewers, Former 5-Star QB Recruit, Entering Transfer Portal. (3 December 2021) https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10019941-report-osus-quinn-ewers-former-5-star-qb-recruit-entering-transfer-portal [xvii] Josh Rodgers. Quarterback Jaden Rashada Said To Have Inked Largest NIL Deal in History For A High School Recruit At $9.5M. (28 June 2022) https://afrotech.com/jaden-rashada-said-to-have-inked-largest-nil-deal-in-history-at-9-5m?item=1 [xviii] 247Sports. Jaden Rashada.https://247sports.com/player/jaden-rashada-46085708/ [xix] Rodgers, Supra. [xx] Jeremy Crabtree. Jaden Rashada turned down millions, will still have highest known NIL deal for recruits. (26 June 2022) https://www.on3.com/nil/news/jaden-rashada-turned-down-millions-will-still-have-highest-known-nil-deal-for-recruits/. [xxi] NLI Signing Dates. http://www.nationalletter.org/signingDates/index.html.