Friends of Nova’s Randy Foye, Ash Howard serve as ‘the engine’ for NIL at Villanova

To be competitive in the NIL space, establishing a collective is always the first step and for Randy Foye — Villanova alum and 12-year NBA veteran — he is the face behind Villanova-focused NIL collective Friends of Nova.

Foye is trying to be a force in the NIL space and looking to broker deals, grow Villanova’s brand, and help foster long-lasting connections in the business world.

Foye recently spoke with The NIL Deal about his collective’s mission statement and his goals moving forward.

“Friends of Nova is a collective that’s fan and alumni driven,” Foye said. “We’re the engine behind our NIL. Basically, we’re the representation of our student-athletes.”

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Foye formed Friends of Nova with Ashley (Ash) Howard, an ex-assistant coach at Villanova from 2013 to 2018 and LaSalle’s coach from 2018 to 2022, and they both serve as co-executive directors of the collective.

Both Foye and Howard are looking to maximize opportunities for Villanova student-athletes and help them build their brand and earn compensation for their name, image and likeness.

Villanova is known for its prestigious men’s basketball program, but Foye said Friends of Nova represents all student-athletes at the university. They assist student-athletes in acquiring NIL sponsorships, partnerships and commercial deals.

Through this collective, Foye says there are two sides to which you can contribute to. Fans and alumni can give on the 501(c)(3) side and on the LLC side.

“If you give on the 501(c)(3) side, you have to partner with an organization,” said Foye. “It could be a Boys and Girls Club, it could be the Special Olympics. We have to partner with someone for the kids to earn their compensation.”

On the LLC side, Foye said the student-athletes can promote their partnerships through social media, and local companies and businesses pay student-athletes to promote their brands.

“Those companies use their name, image and likeness and in return, the athletes post to their followers and direct them towards those companies.”

Foye said the student-athletes have representation and can get deals on their own. It is how some Villanova stars have been able to cash in on NIL opportunities. According to Foye, star senior guard Justin Moore has an apparel deal where he sells t-shirts with his name on the back.

Foye said one person who is doing really well in the NIL space is Maddy Siegrist.

Siegrist is Villanova’s women’s basketball sensation, who was recently named to the AP All-American first team. She, along with the stars of the men’s basketball team, are very popular on campus and Foye said their NIL merchandise are big sellers on campus.

“Maddy is in the midst right now in doing the same thing (as Moore),” Foye explained. “They also have a thing where if you buy ‘X’ amount of things at the bookstore the kids can earn off selling their shirzee (a term for a t-shirt that looks like a jersey with the name of the team on the front and the number and name of the player on the back).”

“There’s a lot of buzz around Maddy Siegrist, because of the phenomenal record-breaking year,” Foye said. “There’s a lot of buzz around Justin Moore, Eric Dixon, and a lot of our other guys. We set the tone for our student-athletes to go out there. This is a fan-driven and alumni-driven platform for our fans and alumni to be able to support their student-athletes. But also, there are partnerships in place. If someone wanted to do a partnership and wanted student-athletes to represent one of their companies, that’s also a possibility. And that’s a deal we can make.”

As an ex-NBA player who made a good deal of money and managing it well, Foye acts as a guidance counselor of sorts when it comes to NIL. He knows some kids may or may not make the next level, but he wants to be a voice Villanova student-athletes can lean on for guidance, especially when it comes to handling finances.

Foye stressed it is a team effort at Friends of Nova. Between parents, the players, the coaching staff and the collective, they all are behind its inherent importance. He doesn’t want any student-athlete to fall into any potential pitfalls with bad-faith actors.

“We don’t want any kid to be hurt dealing with name, image and likeness,” Foye said. “Because the ecosystem continues to change and obviously it’s a million-dollar industry right now. We’ve been reaching out from all angles just figuring out how they can represent companies. But everything we try to do is to make sure it’s the right deal.”

Foye continued: “We got to make sure these kids understand that these are some great years to earn while you’re still young. You don’t really have any debt or any bills. So the most important thing is for them to understand how to take care of your money. I have conversations with guys all the time about this being a great time to invest your money.”

While Foye had a successful NBA career and has established financial stability, he never got to live the NIL experience in his college days.

Foye said he probably could have cashed in on NIL deals, especially his junior season when he thought about declaring for the NBA Draft. But he decided to come back and finish an illustrious college career because of his relationship with legendary head coach Jay Wright. Foye ended his Villanova career as the Big East Player of the Year in 2006, while also being named to the All-American first team.

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Foye was then selected as the No. 7 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He is not jealous one bit, but Foye realizes that he could have benefited from NIL if it existed during his pre-NBA days. Nevertheless, he takes comfort in assisting those who have that opportunity afforded to them now.

“There are no hard feelings towards these guys at all,” Foye said. “Everything changes. Just look at how college basketball, college football and how sports have evolved over the years. It seems like everything is working in the player’s favor. As an alum and former player, I look it at as a plus. These student-athletes are able to earn in some of the best times of their lives.”

This is the current climate college sports finds itself in and to adapt, Foye and Friends of Nova just want to counsel the next stars of Villanova’s athletic program while they get paid in the process.

Nate Brown

General Manager

Nate Brown is the General Manager of Zags Collective, leading the charge to help amplify the opportunities for the Gonzaga student-athletes through NIL partnerships with local charities, fans and businesses. With over a decade of experience in the professional sports industry and as a former business owner in Spokane, Nate is a seasoned professional who knows what it takes to succeed. Most recently, he served as the National Sales Director for a prominent west-coast real estate company, where he was responsible for driving growth and retention. With a deep understanding of sales and marketing, Nate brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and is always seeking innovative ways to drive revenue and create partnerships.With a passion for ensuring the success of student-athletes both on and off the field, Nate is dedicated to providing the necessary resources to keep Gonzaga competitive on the national stage. He understands the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with the community and local businesses, and works to maximize opportunities for Gonzaga’s student-athletes. As the son of two Gonzaga alumni, including a father who was a baseball pitcher and also a coach for the school, Nate has a great connection to the university and a passion for ensuring its continued success. Outside of work, Nate enjoys spending time with family, including his wife Jessica and their 16-year-old daughter Brooklynn and 12-year-old son Marcus. When not working or spending time with family, you can find Nate at any one of the amazing golf courses in Spokane, honing his swing!

Mike Smith

General Manager

Mike Smith joined Micconope 1851 in March 2023 and is excited to be the General Manager and looks forward to working with Blueprint Sports increase NIL revenue generation for Florida State University student-athletes. Smith comes to Micconope 1851 from Catawba College where he held the title as the Senior Director of Athletics, Development. Prior to working in Athletics at Catawba College, Mike served as the Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at Charleston Southern University. Smith has an impressive background in the collegiate athletics industry, having held senior level development and corporate sponsorship sales roles at The University of Southern Mississippi, Limestone University, the Sun Belt Conference, Florida Atlantic University, and with multimedia rights-holders Tele South Communications at the University of Mississippi, Learfield Sports at UNC Chapel Hill, and with International Sports Properties at Georgia Tech. Smith is a graduate of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and holds a master’s degree in Business Management from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his new role here at Micconppe 1851, Smith will be responsible for raising major gifts for NIL deals as well as securing NIL corporate sponsorships for Florida State University student-athletes. Mike looks forward to helping ensure the FSU student-athletes have the resources and leadership opportunities to remain competitive nationally and positioned for success well beyond graduation. Mike is married to Katy Smith; the couple looks forward to relocating to Tallahassee, Florida, and becoming a part of the Micconope 1851 and Seminole family!

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