Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas Rising Leads Name, Image and Likeness Charge at Georgetown

In the ever-evolving world of name, image and likeness (NIL) rights, Hoyas Rising has emerged as the lead Georgetown collective, pairing student athletes with third-party vendors.
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Name, image and likeness (NIL) rights, which allow student-athletes to be compensated for their marketability, went into effect July 1, 2021, following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case on the matter — and collegiate sports have not looked back since. 

Although the NCAA had planned for years in advance on how to manage a future NIL framework, the governing body has largely taken a hands-off approach to regulation. As a result, most schools have created independent NIL collectives, ushering in an age of quasi-“pay for play” via recruitment channels and the increasingly active transfer portal.

Thus, Hoyas Rising was born. Officially created in May 2023, the independent organization has positioned itself as the liaison between Georgetown University athletes and third-party vendors.

John Balkam (MSB ’13), Hoyas Rising’s director of sales and athlete engagement, said the corporation is designed to help Georgetown athletes capitalize on the available NIL offerings.

“Name, image and likeness to me basically just means you have the same rights that professional athletes do,” Balkam told The Hoya. “You can think of us as like an agency operating on behalf of Georgetown student-athletes.”

Hoyas Rising connects athletes to businesses in the Georgetown area, while also helping to teach athletes about marketing and self-promotion. 

“We’ve also already landed a handful of small marketing deals with third parties, particularly businesses here in the neighborhood, including South Block, the Dig Inn, South Moon Under. We’re working on multiple different deals like that,” Balkam added. “It’s an exciting new era for Georgetown student-athletes.”

Currently, Hoyas Rising has completed nearly 100 NIL transactions — either directly or indirectly — with student-athletes from six different teams. The agency has also signed 230 student-athletes from 16 different varsity teams, including the entire men’s basketball team, as clients.

Hoyas Rising does not overlap with Georgetown University, but the organization does own an exclusive license to the university’s intellectual property, which allows for any partnership between companies and students to use Georgetown’s logos. 

The aim is to maximize the value of any third-party partnership, according to Balkam.

“We set it up so that it’s a higher value proposition for everybody, including the brands, including the student-athletes, and we thought it was our way to maximize the value of our student-athletes,” Balkam said.

The licensing agreement also allows Hoyas Rising to operate an exclusive NIL storefront, selling official Georgetown merchandise with players’ names and numbers printed on it. Athletes receive above industry-leading royalties on all sales and can even create custom designs in their “digital locker.”

Courtesy of Hoyas Rising | John Balkam (MSB ’13), Hoyas Rising’s director of sales and athlete engagement, speaks at the collective’s Juice ‘Cuse rally prior to the men’s basketball team’s game against the Orange.

In the coming semesters, Balkam expects Hoyas Rising to push the education component of NIL, which is key for reaching the remaining Georgetown student-athletes.

“You basically have to be an entrepreneur on top of being a student on top of being an athlete,” Balkam said. “But I anticipate us doing some seminars — either we’ll run them or we’ll bring out outside experts to talk about things like branding and social media.”

Behind Hoyas Rising’s outreach to student-athletes is an extensive fundraising wing, led by company chairperson Tim Brosnan (CAS ’80), that relies on Georgetown graduates and allows the organization to continue to develop.

“For now, and into the foreseeable future, we continue to rely almost solely on the generosity of Georgetown donors. And we continue to invest the great bulk of that capital in the place it belongs: the Student Athletes at Georgetown University,” Brosnan wrote in the “Hoyas Rising — The 2023 Year in Review” report, a recap of the company’s first year in business. “This may not be the environment we would all choose, but it is the environment. Simply put, without robust financial support this project fails.”

Balkam notes that it is a chance for alumni to empower athletes, even though the NIL framework may shift in the coming years.

“It’s an opportunity for the Georgetown community to really pay it forward to this generation of student-athletes,” Balkam said. “We don’t know if the rules are going to change. We don’t know exactly where things are going to shake out. But, you know, we’ve been really grateful for the support we’ve gotten from the Georgetown alumni to date.”

More broadly, the evolution and sustainability of the current NIL system is something to closely follow.

“There’s a lot of changes coming to college athletics. NIL and the ruling in the Supreme Court were kind of the first dominoes to fall and now, we are in the midst of seeing the other dominoes fall. I don’t know what those dominoes are going to be. But is it unsustainable this way? Probably,” Balkam said. “It just seems like the amateurism model that the NCAA has modeled itself on forever now, it seems like there’s some cracks in that.”

Nonetheless, Hoyas Rising will continue to operate with an eye toward the future.

“Look, we want to be a staple in every Georgetown student athlete’s experience while they’re here on the Hilltop,” Balkam concluded. “So, the long-term vision is continuing to do what we do and get better and improve and continue to help our student-athlete members flourish during their time on campus.”

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