Name, Image, & Likeness With Penn State’s Chambers
- - What led you to be a partner of INFLCR and the first college basketball partner to add the NIL Suite Data Services offering?
- - How has social media impacted recruiting in general and the way that you and your coaches recruit?
- - When you look at the Penn State men's basketball logo, what do you want that brand to stand for?
- - How does that fuse growing the Penn State brand and helping your players grow their brand, in the era of name, image, and likeness?
- - How do you address the NIL topic with recruits to position Penn State as a place that's going to help maximize their brand and value?
- - How do you address the NIL topic with recruits in a way that's compliant?
Jim Cavale: The INFLCR family is pumped to welcome in Penn State men’s basketball as one of our newest partners. Now, Penn State is coming off of one of the best seasons in their program’s history under head coach Pat Chambers, who has decided not only to add the INFLCR core product, but he and Penn State men’s basketball are one of the first college basketball programs to take advantage of the INFLCR NIL Suite, and I have him joining me today for this interview.
Coach, thanks so much for joining us today, as always. Thanks for making time. But really, where I want to start is talking about the investment. I mean, ultimately, you have chosen not only to have the INFLCR core product at the center of how you power your student-athlete brands, but you’ve also chosen to add our NIL Suite. So, why this investment?
Coach Patrick Chambers: You know, I think INFLCR is cutting edge. I was all about it when we met months ago, to help our players. To me, it’s always about the players, it’s always going to be about the players, and now they have an opportunity to be compensated for their stories. Everybody uses “brand,” and I guess you can use that, they’re still under the Penn State umbrella, but I think it’s their story and who they are, where they’re from, their families, their background. I think that makes the most intriguing platform for our guys, and I believe INFLCR gives our guys that platform. And they’ll manage that, they’ll guide them through that. And we want to be ahead of the curve. We see where this is going. We see where Name, Image, & Likeness is going. So we want to get on board now, so we’re prepared for when that happens, when that comes to fruition. So our players are going to be ready to go, and I think that’s going to be great for them, just short-term, that’s going to be great for them, right, to help them out, but it’s also going to be great for them long-term when they get to the NBA or play overseas. I think it’s important for you to recognize that Penn State has the most alumni, the largest alumni base in the entire country! With nearly 750,000 living, breathing, paying alums! I mean if you’re a Penn State basketball player, or a potential recruit, you’ve got to think about that for a second. Because that could really help you, again, receive some compensation that you might otherwise not receive.
Cavale: Since Day One coach, when we first talked, it’s been all about “how can I help my student-athletes be better on social? And how can myself and my coaches be better on social?” You’ve consistently said that to me in our conversation. I love that because ultimately you got to be ready for the moment. That’s what social media is really about. And the moment is now for Penn State basketball. You’re coming off one of the best seasons in your program’s history. You’ve had amazing players come through. You have an amazing team coming this season. And this is a time to really lean into storytelling.
Chambers: You know, again, it goes back to the story that we want to….or the messaging that we want out there. I want them to have a platform. But I do want it to follow our core of faith, accountability, passion, humility, gratitude: I think that’s an incredible map for success. And what holds up those pillars is the word “attitude.” And if we can follow that, well then your messaging, your storyline will be upbeat and positive. You know, we’re all on social right now, and it can be toxic depending on who you’re following, right? And depending on how you’re receiving it.
So, let’s make a difference. Let’s make sure we’re putting some really good vibes, some really good stories, inspirational stuff that will help people along their days, or their most difficult times. And for me as the head coach, we’ve had a lot of success for the last three years. And, we need that to get out to the masses, not just to Penn Staters, but to the masses across the country that, “Hey, look what this program is doing, look at what Pat Chambers and his staff is doing with this team. 21 wins, 8-game winning streak. Oh by the way, we won the award for GPA: most improved GPA, NABC, internally, on this university with 31 sports.” That’s powerful stuff! That needs to get out there. No better platform than the INFLCR to help get that out to the masses.
Cavale: So, Coach, I think the next question has to be, how has social media impacted recruiting in general and in the way that you and your coaches recruit? Because a lot has changed over the past decade.
Chambers: For me, it’s about getting to know them even better. Obviously, you see what they’re tweeting, you see more content than you would ever see. You get to see their highlights, and that’s all awesome stuff. But you also get to see their interests! Is it music, is it cars? Who their favorite player might be, maybe something with their family, their friends. You know, quotes, what inspires them? Things of that nature. So, you’re getting to know somebody on a totally different level. Because sometimes you pick up the phone and you want to get into a deeper conversation, and maybe they’re not so comfortable with that. But maybe they’re comfortable, maybe with texting, but social media. Because, that’s what all the players are doing, that’s what all the community’s doing, that’s what this generation is doing, and that’s how they’re communicating with one another, that’s how they’re staying connected. So for me, it’s a whole other level, and it gets a deeper relationship. And again, we’ve gotta be on the cutting edge of understanding these platforms, and utilizing these platforms to build stronger, loving, more trusting relationships. And INFLCR can do that for us.
Cavale: Coach, when you look at a logo, whether it’s the Nike logo (when I see the Nike logo, I think of athletes) or the Chick fil A logo (when I see the Chick fil A logo, I think of excellence). When you look at the Penn State men’s basketball logo, what do you want that brand to stand for?
Chambers: It stands for attitude. This wasn’t easy. And for these kids, these players, and their families to commit to us, in a rebuilding situation (back in 2011), for them to say “yes,” for them to want to be a part of this, you’ve got to have a great attitude. You’ve got to have a work ethic. You have to have passion. And you’ve got to love what you do. And I think it’s the holistic approach that we bring. And I think that’s why we’ve been so successful. Hey, we’ve had two players invited to the NBA Combine in the last four years. Prior to that, it’s been zero. We had a player on the Mavericks this year, Josh Reaves. Tony Carr was drafted. Calvin Booth’s a GM with the Denver Nuggets. Tim Frazier’s a seven-year pro. I mean, those things matter. Those guys that came before, they matter. But it wouldn’t have meant anything if they weren’t trailblazers, and they didn’t believe in our map for success, which I already told you about what Penn State basketball embodies.
Cavale: And so how does that fuse into the NIL era, right? If you’re growing your program’s brand, but you’re also helping your players grow their brand and these two merge together to tell the Penn State men’s basketball story, how does that translate into the era that is name, image, and likeness?
Chambers: Well, they’re going to embody what we are, you know, the umbrella, right Jim? They’re going to embody that, but also we’ve got to keep telling their story around that. Again, I’m not trying to tell them what to put out, what to put on social, but we want to be a positive impact that you don’t have to go to the Blue Bloods. You can come here and have an amazing experience. Have the holistic experience of academics, sports, which is getting better, the social aspect of Penn State (although we’re in a pandemic, it’s still amazing) and then life after basketball. Man, we’re checking a lot of boxes. Especially with that alumni base, you can do a heck of a lot of things.
Cavale: And so I’m sitting here, and I’m a recruit interested in Penn State men’s basketball, and you want me to come play for your program. And the NIL topic comes up. How do you address that topic in a way that’s compliant and also positions Penn State as a place that’s going to help my brand create the most value possible for my NIL?
Chambers: Yeah, “we have vision for you.” We have vision for the current players. Again, we’re cutting edge, we want to get ahead of the game. You know, if I think about Lamar Stevens, Lamar Stevens had 30% engagement. Lamar Stevens and his family could have been really compensated if NIL was done last year. So, that to me is exciting. So, social media platforms is probably the easiest way, but you have autographs, you have merchandise, heck you have car dealerships, you have the largest alumni base in the country! There’s so many avenues…it’s an advantage with that large alumni base to be able to be compensated in some sort of way under what the NCAA is going to do. We’re not sure the direction they’re going in, hopefully they give us more clarity moving forward, and when they do we’ll be ready to go, but I think for us, in sitting down with a player, they’re going to look at that and say “wow, this could be a great situation for me.” Not only get the scholarship, not only get all the great resources that we have here, and a cost-of-attendance stipend (which was number one in the Big Ten, top five in the country), we can also get compensated for these other incredible items to help ourselves and to help our families, but also get our brand and get our story out there for short-term and long-term.
Cavale: And so my last question, Coach, is really in line with the NIL lines of recruiting, right. There’s obviously going to be coaches who don’t recruit compliantly and maybe promise deals and over promise things because of NIL. And I know you have a strategy to stay compliant, do this the right way. But the question is going to come up: a student-athlete who is at the high school level, considering Penn State as an option, is going to ask, “How are you going to take care of me with NIL? What deals am I going to get?” How do you answer a question like that?
Chambers: It is simple, Jim. I think it comes down to, “hey, there’s too many questions to be answered still.” There’s too many gray areas. What is the NCAA going to provide? They need to provide more direction, more clarity, is there going to a czar, is there going to be a commissioner, or is it up to each individual institution? Does Penn State have to hire somebody? Do we have to hire somebody inside our program? Is this a financial advisor, is this an agent? There’s going to be taxes…I mean, I just gave you so many questions without answers. So, we have to be patient. But once we get some clarity, and once we get a better understanding, we can move forward. But that’s why we’re going with INFLCR: we know that this is going to happen, and we’re prepared for it to happen because we’re going to have a foundation and we’re going to be ahead of everybody else.
Cavale: All right, Coach, you’re off the hot seat. Thanks so much for making time today. And of course, all of us here at INFLCR are so excited about the long term partnership we have with Penn State men’s basketball and really being there to help escort you into this new name, image, and likeness era.