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NIL Q&A: Brandon Lee, Mizzou Assistant AD

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Brandon Lee is the assistant athletic director overseeing Name, Image, and Likeness for the University of Missouri. He recently participated in an email Q&A with comobusinesstimes.com. For additional backgound and a comprehensive look at NIL, please see “Name. Image. Likeness. Game On,” the cover story in the October 2023 finance issue of COMO Business Times magazine

CBT: You’ve been quoted as saying NIL isn’t just for future professionals or higher-profile sports; but for ALL student-athletes, from swimming and wrestling to gymnastics and every sport. Explain that a little more because the public generally sees only the higher profile (revenue-generating) athletes. 

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Brandon Lee

Lee: Correct. NIL is not exclusively for higher-profile sports/student-athletes, but for ALL student-athletes and sports. I believe that this is important to know considering the false narrative surrounding NIL and who can benefit from NIL opportunities. However, opportunities subjectively vary depending on each student-athlete‚Äôs interest. Some student-athletes are more interested than others when it comes to NIL and that is totally fine.  

CBT: It’s our understanding that the NCAA still forbids using NIL money and inducements as part of the university’s recruitment of new students and transfers. And the compensation from an NIL sponsor to the student-athlete does not go through the university. Can you confirm those two points? What would you like to add? 

Lee: Recruiting inducements are forbidden. NIL compensation from sponsors to student-athletes does not go through the institution, but rather third-party vendors such as our partner, Opendorse. Opendorse provides a platform for all transactions to be pitched, communicated, and processed between NIL sponsors and student-athletes.  

CBT: In what ways does your NIL office work to prevent student-athletes from being taken advantage of or exploited? 

Lee: Education. The best way to prepare student-athletes for the NIL experience in general and help prevent them from being exploited throughout the process is to educate and provide resources that equip them with the knowledge, they need to successfully operate in the space. A few educational topics that we like to focus on are financial wellness, contract analysis, personal branding, and entrepreneurship.  

CBT: Many analysts, coaches, and legislators/politicians have referred to these early stages of NIL as “the Wild West,” mostly because the NCAA has refused to take the lead on establishing uniform, consistent policies and guidance. What assurance can you give that there’s order and not chaos? 

Lee: With great guidance and support from our state legislators and general counsel, we have created order for our student-athletes here at the University of Missouri. We will continue to build and maintain a best-in-class NIL experience for our student-athletes through great leadership and guidance from our counsel. 

CBT: Many fans and commentators have said that NIL and the transfer portal make it appear that college athletes can be free agents now. How do you respond to that? 

Lee: I would not refer to it as free agency, but rather an opportunity for student-athletes to explore other opportunities if they desire. The NCAA allows a one-time transfer exception for student-athletes, but institutions must still follow NCAA recruiting rules when it comes to prospects in the transfer portal. 

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