‘Keepers of the Culture’ NIL Collective Launches at Loyola University Chicago With Community Partnership Event

Loyola Men’s Basketball Team will visit the residents at the Misericordia Campus

CHICAGO (February 23, 2023) – Community leaders in Chicago have partnered with Blueprint Sports, the industry leader in full-service Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) collectives, to unveil ‘Keepers of the Culture’ (KOTC) -- the first NIL collective supporting the men’s basketball team at Loyola University Chicago, part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

To mark the start of this exciting partnership, the collective will host an all-team student-athlete engagement on Sunday, February 26, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. CT, at Misericordia Heart of Mercy, located at 6300 N. Ridge Avenue, Chicago, IL 60660 (corner of Devon and Ridge). During the event, Loyola men’s basketball players will visit and interact with residents at Misericordia, whose mission is to provide a continuum of care and support for children and adults of all faiths and cultures who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The Ramblers men’s basketball team is a high-performing, dedicated and charismatic group of student-athletes who absolutely will be positively affected by the launch of the ‘Keepers of the Culture’ collective,” said Loyola University Chicago men’s basketball Head Coach Drew Valentine. “This is an important step towards student-athletes connecting with the community, marketing themselves and opening doors for not only immediate opportunities, but also future opportunities down the road.”

This first event, in partnership with Misericordia, is an example of the types of engagements the collective plans to do while supporting the local community. KOTC supporters, alumni, and fans can make tax-deductible donations to the collective, through a partnership with the BPS Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization formed to educate, encourage, and assist Rambler student-athletes in their efforts to engage with charitable causes.

“Introducing ‘Keepers of the Culture’ is an exciting advancement to Loyola University Chicago’s NIL offerings,” said Steve Watson, director of athletics at Loyola University Chicago. “We are truly energized by the opportunities that will be streamlined through launching this new NIL collective, helping our hardworking student-athletes as they navigate these waters.”

Through KOTC, local and national businesses and brands, in addition to community supporters and fans, have multiple options to engage with Loyola student-athletes. Student-athlete activations include custom marketing campaigns, planned speaking engagements, autograph sessions, participating in charity events, and more.

“We are thrilled to partner with the team at Loyola,” said Tim McLaughlin, Blueprint Sports vice president of donor relations – East. “Loyola student-athletes are fortunate to have the support of a tight-knit community, who believe in keeping its athletic programs competitive and supporting players on and off the athletic arena. I look forward to forging many strong relationships within the Rambler community.”

For more information visit and follow @kotcnil on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Blueprint Sports Founded in Las Vegas in 2020 and backed by Andre Agassi, eight-time Grand Slam tennis champion, Blueprint Sports (BPS) powers the industry's leading name, image, and likeness (NIL) collectives for alumni, supporters, and businesses, connecting them with student-athletes at their favorite university. BPS' national portfolio of collectives supports student-athletes across the country, including around Florida State University, Penn State University, Boston College, NC State University, Villanova University, Gonzaga University, University of Arizona, University of Tennessee, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Nevada, Ohio University, University of Toledo, Montana State University and more. The Blueprint Sports management team possesses over 50 years of college and professional sports experience, spanning the Pac-12 Conference, IMG, Learfield, and Nevada Athletics Commission, among others. For more information, visit or its pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Name, Image, Likeness (NIL)

On June 30, 2021, the Division I Board of Directors approved an interim name, image, and likeness policy. This new policy allows all NCAA DI, DII, and DIII student-athletes to be compensated for their NIL as of July 1, 2021. Student-athletes can now engage in paid community appearances, autograph sessions, youth coaching engagements, and sports marketing campaigns.

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Media Contact:
For "Keepers of the Culture" and Blueprint Sports – The Ferraro Group
Halley Metcalfe - (702) 969-9004 /

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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