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The Future Of NIL With Ohio State’s Ross Bjork And LEARFIELD’s Solly Fulp

Guest Ross Bjork, Ohio State University; Solly Fulp, LEARFIELD
26:43 min watch


The Ohio State Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation-Eugene Smith Endowed Athletics Director Ross Bjork and LEARFIELD Executive Vice President for NIL Growth & Development Solly Fulp sit down with ADU’s Tai M. Brown at the 2024 NACDA Convention to discuss the future of NIL in the context of today’s athletics landscape. Fulp and Bjork reflect on the dynamics of the NIL ecosystem two years into the sales cycle and share insight into LEARFIELD’s recently revamped Compass NIL platform. Fulp: “We need to own the dealmaking process from beginning to end.” The duo also discusses the integration of storytelling content into brand campaigns, how to future-proof the college athletics enterprise and how some student-athletes are utilizing NIL engagements in place of internship experiences as part of a holistic approach to professional development.

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - Solly, your title includes references to NIL and Growth & Development - tell me about the growth and development aspect of your role with LEARFIELD.
  • - As the NIL conversation started years ago, did LEARFIELD realize that it already had all the pieces in place to support the growth of this vertical?
  • - But in terms of looking back 4-5 years ago, the industry in general had no idea what infrastructure would be needed or was already in place.
  • - Ross, you're the incoming AD at Ohio State. Every new AD takes a listening tour but at a place like Ohio State in an ever-changing landscape like the one we're in now, how long can you really pause and listen before needing to take action?
  • - Tell us about Compass.
  • - What about that gray area about how negotiating actually takes place between a brand and a student-athlete.
  • - How is something like Compass a value to you, in terms of making the role of an Athletic Director easier?
  • - It seems like NIL has provided LEARFIELD and Compass an opportunity to tap into an existing apparatus - as things come we're continuing to move forward and use the things we have to address an existing problem. Is there an aspect of that within the infrastructure of college athletics?
  • - But could you have, though?
  • - In general, are there things we can put in place for college athletics (not just for NIL) to futureproof the industry because things aren't going to stop changing?
  • - How can you build your organization so that it will exist no matter what happens?
  • - What trends are you seeing in the NIL landscape right now?
  • - Walk me through the process of finding out student-athlete interests.
  • - It seems like if athletic departments are finding out their athletes' interests up front, that information can be used for a number of different things.
  • - How do you talk to young professionals about how they can best plan and prepare for the future? What are you telling the future leaders of college athletics?
  • - Translate that to young Solly Fulp working in athletics.