UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (6/8/23) — Penn State Athletics announced today a transformative Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) move to benefit all 800-plus student-athletes. Fresh off successful fundraising campaigns and NIL engagement programming over the last year, Success With Honor, the NIL collective supporting all 31 sports, and Lions Legacy Club, the NIL collective for Penn State football are uniting to create Happy Valley United NIL collective.
In a move heralded by Penn State Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft, the uniting of these two successful organizations into one will create a clear direction for all Nittany Nation stakeholders to directly support the NIL efforts of the world-class student-athletes attending Penn State. Happy Valley United will be professionally run by a dedicated full-time team led by a new CEO to be named later. The board of Happy Valley United will include leaders of industry and great supporters of Penn State University and Penn State Athletics, including Ira Lubert, Anthony Misitano, Bob Poole, Larry Cusack, Mark Toniatti, B.J. Werzyn, and Matt DeSoto.
“Both groups have been great supporters of our NIL efforts to date, but this merger was an important step in our ever-changing collegiate athletics landscape,” said Kraft. “It was imperative for these two powerful collectives to join forces to provide a large breadth of NIL opportunities for student-athletes in all 31 of our sports programs to continue to push us forward.”
“I am very proud of the work that has been done over the past 18 months by our staff and excited about the future that brings these two groups together to keep Penn-State athletics competitive and maintain the respectable reputation that characterizes our program,” said Mark Toniatti, former CEO of Success With Honor, and current Board Member of Happy Valley United.
Happy Valley United will be powered by Blueprint Sports (BPS), the leader in powering full-service NIL collectives nationwide. Penn State alum Rob Sine leads BPS.
“Happy Valley United is a crystal-clear signal that the competition is not within Penn State, but our competition is around the country. A unified collective combined with dedicated resources, infrastructure, and an impressive team of professionals will deliver on bold, aggressive, and ambitious fundraising needs that will keep Penn State athletics at the pinnacle of college athletics on the gridiron, on the court, and anywhere else you cheer on the Nittany Lions,” said Sine.
Happy Valley United is strategically structured and will immediately establish advisory boards for football, basketball, and Olympic sports to provide fundraising support, event planning, strategic guidance, and financial commitment.
Starting immediately, donors, fans, and businesses can channel their passion for a particular sport by making a one-time tax-deductible contribution, signing up for a monthly or annual membership to a specific sport, or selecting to do a business engagement with a student-athlete or team.
Through Happy Valley United, supporters can also buy merchandise for the collective and celebrate key moments in PSU athletics’ history by owning special collectible drops and more. In addition, the collective adopted a rebranded look paying homage to the Nittany Lion, and a new website with a revamped membership platform and increased benefits can be found at www.happyvalleyunited.com.
Allison MonetteBlueprint Sports, VP Marketing & Communications email@example.com
Kristina PetersenPenn State Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications & Contentkap18@psu.edu814-883-4581
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 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!