How former Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush wants to help athletes profit from name, image and likeness
Brandon Wimbush is too smart to put a dollar value on the hypothetical scenario.
When asked how much money he could have made off his name, image and likeness as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback from the beginning of the 2017 season to the beginning of the 2018 season, Wimbush found a window for a laugh.
“You don’t think I would have been able to make money in the 2018 season?” Wimbush asked in return. “I would have been able to do all right.”
He’s probably right. Even though Wimbush was replaced as the starting quarterback four games into the 2018 season by Ian Book, opportunities for Wimbush to endorse products or sign autographs likely would have been plentiful around South Bend before, during and after each season.
“In South Bend I could potentially make more money than the starting quarterback at UCLA in the Los Angeles area just because of the prominence of the school and the prominence of that athlete in that community,” Wimbush said.
Wimbush doesn’t just have an opinion on the topic because of his experience as a player at Notre Dame, his business administration degree from the Mendoza College of Business and the season he spent as a grad transfer at Central Florida. Last year, Wimbush and fellow Notre Dame grad and New Jersey product Ayden Syal founded a company, MOGL (pronounced like mogul), designed to help athletes connect with businesses to capitalize on their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Syal, a 2017 Notre Dame graduate from Maplewood, N.J., started to tinker with business plans after the NCAA’s Board of Governors in October 2019 put its weight behind supporting student-athletes financially benefiting from the use of their name, image and likeness so long as it fits within the ideals of its collegiate model. Syal sought out Wimbush, from Teaneck, N.J., to learn what a student-athlete would want from this process, and they agreed to start a business together.
The only problem? The NCAA has yet to implement any rule changes on name, image and likeness despite growing pressure from lawmakers across the country. That hasn’t prevented Wimbush and Syal from testing their concept and preparing the MOGL platform for whenever the rule changes go into effect.
MOGL partnered with Downtown South Bend for an event that included a meet-and-greet with Wimbush last October. In December, MOGL connected three women’s soccer players from the Orlando Pride with Orlando North, Seminole County Tourism for promotional content. Wimbush said they’re also working on projects with a few NFL athletes as well.
Wimbush, who is also working on the business side of Brandon Marshall’s House of Athlete in Weston, Fla., and Syal, who has worked in financial services at Morgan Stanley and IHS Markit and in private equity at Lexington Partners, are preparing the MOGL platform for an influx of student-athletes. They’re ready to start business in Florida when its NIL law goes into effect on July 1. Five other states — California, Colorado, Nebraska, New Jersey and Michigan — have passed NIL laws that are scheduled to go into effect no sooner than 2022. Several other states are close to passing bills on the topic as well.
Michael McCann, an attorney, law professor and Sportico legal analyst/senior sports legal reporter, expects the NCAA will fight to prevent Florida’s law from being put into effect while it works on establishing its own rules.
“If I had to guess, they’ll go to court before then,” McCann said on ND Insider’s “Pod of Gold” podcast last month. “They’ll seek an injunction blocking Florida law from going into effect. They would argue that it’s a violation of interstate commerce, that the state of Florida is trying to regulate the economies, because it basically forces the NCAA to either change its rules or forces other states to change its rules.”
While they wait for the NCAA and legal process to be sorted out, Wimbush, Syal and their sales reps are connecting with businesses in college markets to pitch the MOGL concept. Businesses will be charged an access fee to be connected with athletes. The businesses will be placed on the MOGL platform where athletes, at no charge, will be able to sort through opportunities like event appearances, endorsements or social media campaigns.
Businesses and athletes can sign up through the MOGL website (mogl.online). A MOGL mobile app is currently in development. They’ve worked to spread brand awareness on Instagram (@get.mogl), TikTok (@get.mogl) and Twitter (@TheMOGLApp).
“We’re really on a mission here to put the value that the athletes provide to the community back into their hands,” Syal said, “and provide them a service where they’ll be able to seek out the opportunities to monetize their name, image and likeness, while helping local businesses to build their brands and increase their profitability.”
The local focus is important for MOGL. The business plans to donate a portion of its proceeds to local youth athletic programs, Syal said.
The business concept requires a lot of work to connect two separate interests. MOGL has to develop relationships with businesses interested in connecting with athletes and develop relationships with athletes looking to take advantage of their name, image and likeness. Syal’s understanding of the current NIL proposals will likely require MOGL to target college athletes individually rather than partnering with specific athletic departments.
But athletic departments who recognize the value of their NIL markets could start to include that as part of their recruiting pitches to high school prospects. In college towns like South Bend where athletes won’t be competing with professional athletes for NIL opportunities, the markets could be particularly strong.
“If schools really take full advantage of it, lay out a program for these athletes and really push for them to do this thing correctly, then they can use it to their advantage and they can use it as a recruiting tool,” Wimbush said. “I think you’re going to see athletes starting to go to schools that have clear markets — to my point of being in South Bend. The Notre Dame quarterback could have done really well there.”