Today’s college athletics landscape is more influenced than ever by money. The University of Wyoming took a step to becoming more competitive in this modern landscape as the first name, image and likeness (NIL) collective to serve the school launched Thursday.
1WYO Inc. will provide funding to UW athletes to use their influence and talent to promote local Wyoming charities.
“We are very excited that this collective is up and running to support UW student-athletes and Wyoming charities,” University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman said in a press release announcing the collective launch. “I am very impressed with the vision and dedication of the leadership involved with 1WYO. They love UW and they have a value system which matches the people of Wyoming.”
In 2021, the NCAA implemented a policy that permits enrolled student-athletes in all collegiate athletics the opportunity to capitalize on their NIL potential. The NIL decision elevated college students above their previous amateur status.
Under the new policy, student-athletes can be compensated for NIL activities within certain limitations. State laws also play a role, but Wyoming does not regulate NILs.
The 1WYO is the first NIL to focus solely on UW athletics.
In 2022, UW partnered with Opendorse, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based company that specializes in NIL and has a relationship with many schools.
1WYO differs from other NIL collectives around the country that have offered generous sums to student athletes without connections to charitable causes.
Currently, the only official charitable partner of the organization is Make-A-Wish Wyoming.
1WYO has no direct affiliation with the university and is considered a third party working adjacent to the school.
Fans will be able to direct their donations to a specific sport and can request a specific charity or athlete that they’d like to donate to.
Members of the 1WYO Board of Directors are Laramie residents Mitch Edwards, Jason Tangeman, Jason Roesler and Steve Gosar. All four attended UW and three of the four are former athletes at the school.
“I hope we're the right ones, and we hope we're doing it right and that everybody can be proud of the product that we're putting out there,” Edwards told 7220sports.com on Wednesday.
The group hopes to bring in $600,000 to $1 million in its first year.
Not Tax Deductible
One hurdle 1WYO may face from the get-go is getting people to donate to their organization rather than giving directly to charities.
1WYO has applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status with the IRS. The IRS said in a memo in June that it does not consider NIL donations to be tax deductible.
According to 7220 Sports, Wyoming is the eighth Mountain West Conference school to join the collective movement, joining Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah State and New Mexico.
According to Sports Illustrated, more than 200 collectives exist among the 131 major Division I universities, dozens of which have been granted 501(c)(3) status and are receiving millions in donations from boosters who are under the prior impression that their gifts fall under tax deduction.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.