Tom Lubnau: How The Supreme Court Changed UW Athletics, And What We Can Do To Help

Columnist Tom Lubnau writes, "For University of Wyoming athletics to remain competitive, robust funding for the NIL program is necessary. UW competes with universities who have no problem raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their student athletes."

Tom Lubnau

July 03, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

College sports changed forever when the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in June of 2021 in National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston.

Basically, the Alston opinion says college athletes in this country can now be compensated for their “name, image and likeness” (NIL) and prohibitions to the contrary by the NCAA and Universities are unlawful. 

Just a month after the decision, the NCAA announced new rules allowing student-athletes to enter into paid endorsements, sponsorships and even hiring sports agents. For colleges to attract top players, NIL endorsements are a new fact of life.

By the 2021-2022 school year NIL “collectives” supporting athletic programs for many large University athletic programs began to appear.

The law still prohibited direct “pay to play” arrangements, but the collectives could pool money from their respective fan bases and donors for the purpose of hiring student athletes to promote certain products, causes or even promote the athletes themselves.

States like Florida and Texas were able to raise millions of dollars because of the large populations and fan bases.  

During this same time frame, the rule regulating student athlete transfers was changed.

The old rule was simple. If a student-athlete wanted to transfer he or she had to sit out a year before they were eligible to compete at the new school, which was a fairly effective deterrent. 

The new rules do away with this prohibition and student-athletes can now get into the “transfer portal” during a set period of time and compete immediately. The ability to freely transfer coupled with NIL money has created a true, if not a somewhat frustrating, free agency for college athletes.

By the 2022-2023 school year it became clear that if the University of Wyoming’s athletics programs were going to remain competitive in the Mountain West Conference it needed a viable NIL collective.

Mitch Edwards and Jason Tangeman are attorneys in Laramie and life-long Cowboys fans. After some discussions with UW Athletic Director Tom Burman about the state of the “transfer portal” and collectives in general, Mitch and Jason made the decision to form 1WYO, Inc., a Wyoming nonprofit corporation. 

In forming 1WYO, Mitch and Jason weren’t interested in developing a “pay-to-play” collective that skirted the rules of amateurism.

Instead, they learned that some collectives had made it their business model to compensate student-athletes to use their names, images and likenesses to promote charities and charitable causes.

Promoting charitable causes was a worthy purpose for the Wyoming collective and student athletes.  With this mission in mind, Laramie CPA Jason Roesler and Laramie financial advisor Steve Gosar were asked to join the 1WYO Board.

Thereafter the Board started conversations with numerous Wyoming charities to better understand how the 1WYO collective might be able to support and promote their causes through the participation of UW student athletes.

The responses were very welcoming and encouraging. As of the summer of 2024, the Jae Foundation, Make-A-Wish, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming and Cheyenne and Big Brothers Big Sisters have all agreed to be official charitable organization partners with 1WYO. 

Since last summer 1WYO has entered directly into over forty NIL engagements with UW student athletes to participate in more than a dozen different events to support and promote its partner charities, and have helped facilitate other NIL engagements with its partner charities.

On July 8, 2024, 1WYO is officially launching its “307 Campaign."

The date coincides with 1WYO’s one-year anniversary as well as individual tickets going on sale for the 2024 football season.

The goal of the 307 Campaign is pretty simple – 1,000 fans contributing an annual amount of $307. 

The individual amount of $307 is achievable for regular fans and even students. Interested people can visit the webpage to contribute their $307 directly.

The reality is that if Wyoming sports fans want their teams to be competitive, financial support is necessary. The Supreme Court ended the debate about whether or not NIL endorsements are a good idea. NIL is the new reality.

For University of Wyoming athletics programs to remain competitive, robust funding for the NIL program is necessary. UW athletics compete with major universities who have no problem raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their student athletes.

For Wyoming athletics to remain competitive, Wyoming folks are going to have to do what we always do, buckle down and support our one four-year university.

The 1WYO effort and their “307 Campaign” are something we all can do to help UW athletics succeed. Go Pokes!

Tom Lubnau served in the Wyoming Legislature from 2005 - 2015 and is a former Speaker of the House. He can be reached at:

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Tom Lubnau