UToledo Name, Image, and Likeness collective announced

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Toledo community leaders have partnered with Blueprint Sports to unveil ‘Friends of ‘Rocky’ – the first Name, Image and Likeness Collective supporting student-athletes at the University of Toledo.

‘Friends of Rocky’ is led by a board of advisors made up of local fans, alumni and donors, and chaired by Toledo supporters and Cleves Delp, long-time successful Toledo business executive for Rockets football.

“The ‘Friends of Rocky’ collective can be the gold standard for collectives in the country as we uphold the strictest standards for compliance reporting, structure, and organization. Our team will work tirelessly to engage with the community so that we may continue to support the fine student-athletes with permissible NIL programs across the region. I believe that having these student-athletes out in the community will lift up businesses, brands, and youth future Rockets as they aspire to become D1 student-athlete. I am proud that we are the first collective to launch in the Mid-American Conference.” said Delp.

On the new ‘Friends of Rocky’ website, supporters have various options to engage to with student-athletes. It provides streamlined communications between regional businesses, brands, and Toledo Athletics student-athletes for marketing opportunities.

This can include online influencer campaigns, local appearances, youth sports coaching, charity event attendance and much more. One time or recurring crowdfunding and monthly “behind the red rope” memberships are available for exclusive access to various student-athletes.

“Through ‘Friends of Rocky’, we’re helping these student-athletes get a head start on their financial future, so it’s vital that they also understand sound financial practices early in life to help prepare them for the future,” added Delp. “That’s why our wealth management firm, TDC Investment Advisory, created a new program called RightTrak, a self-paced, digital financial education curriculum that will help these student-athletes understand the fundamental foundations of managing, protecting, and growing their wealth. Every student-athlete who is part of ‘Friends of Rocky’ will take this program. In the end, it’s about helping lead these young men and women towards a future of financial independence and success.”

Various former and current student athletes at the University of Toledo is excited to see this initiative come to life. Former Rockets All-Conference linebacker and fifth round draft pick in the 2022 NFL draft, Tycen Anderson, is excited for this change to come.

“I believe that NIL is such an opportunity for the student-athletes at Toledo. I know first-hand how much work and dedication go into being a Rocket, and now with Friends of Rocky, the community has an easy way to hire and support each of them directly,” said Anderson.

Rockets men’s basketball team is excited for ‘Friends of Rocky’ too. Rocket’s basketball forward, Sentric Millner Jr. said it’s a beneficial avenue to have access to.

“Myself and my teammates are so excited about Friends of Rocky,” said Millner. “It is a great avenue for us to get involved in the community, learn financial responsibility, and grow our brands. We all love this great community and are grateful to those who support us and this initiative.”

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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