Basepath recently became the exclusive operations software provider of the Rising Spear, Florida State University’s NIL collective. And to help promote the new partnership, Basepath CEO Thomas Thomas Jr. spoke exclusively with The NIL Deal to discuss the FSU deal.
Thomas and Rising Spear Chief Operating Officer Will Cowen have known each other “since the outset of NIL,” and that relationship, along with Cowen’s “thoughts and feedback” have helped Thomas and Basepath develop into the company they are today.
“We’ve been trying to find the right time and place to bring a partnership together,” Thomas said. “And we’re really excited that, as we head into this upcoming school year that we’re going to be providing [Cowen] some of the software and tools that will help him and his team more effectively manage their athletes.”
Basepath will support the Rising Spear “holistically,” and that means both on the organization’s non-profit and for-profit side.
Managing these entities is a big deal these days as NIL collectives like Texas A&M’s 12th Man+ are shutting down after a memo from the Internal Revenue Service told the foundation that donations for certain collectives are not tax deductible.
NIL is a rapidly changing industry, and no one knows exactly what is coming next from any number of governing bodies trying to shape the future of name, image, and likeness right for college athletes. However, Thomas says that Basepath software can help schools like FSU be prepared no matter what comes in the future.
“We can create records and maintain all the documentation so that if ever there is a conversation that happens with the organization — and it may be the IRS, it may be the NCAA, it may be a conference — whomever comes knocking on the door, we can ensure that all the documentation, all the proof of work, and all that stuff lives within out platform and is easily exportable to pass off to any kind of governing body that needs it,” Thomas explained.
With all this uncertainty in the NIL industry, Basepath has built its operational software to be flexible and able to be adapted when needed based on the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding NIL.
This isn’t uncommon in the software world, but Thomas shared that the current state of college athletics’ name, image, and likeness rights is like nothing he’s seen before in his career.
“I’ve done work within manufacturing, CPG, pharmaceuticals, and now college athletics,” Thomas said. “And [NIL] is nuts. It’s just crazy. It’s fun, it keeps you on your toes, but yeah, the complexity, the landscape seemingly changes by the hour, not the week or month, and news is breaking constantly.”
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One news story that is breaking around the time as the partnership between Basepath and Rising Spear is college football conference realignment. And FSU is at the center of it as the school contemplates leaving the ACC.
Thomas is, understandably, too busy trying to navigate the back end of NIL to truly understand the inner workings of conference realignment that is playing out in university boardrooms and in the media. What he does know, though, is that when a school does make a big move, it’s usually good for the institution’s NIL collectives.
While he doesn’t have the data just yet, Thomas said anecdotally, “When we have schools that are involved in conferences that have realignment things going on, we actually see pickups on the NIL activity within those programs.”
These “pickups” include upticks in website traffic, more members signing up, and donations increasing for NIL collectives. Thomas has seen this in the last few weeks, as Basepath is involved with schools from the Pac-12, Big 12, ACC, and more.
Despite all the chaos in the space currently, the college football season is now right around the corner, and with Basepath working with over 50 collectives, Thomas says he roots for all the schools that his company works with.
So, what happens when two Basepath partners play each other? Who does Thomas pull for?
“I went to Notre Dame, but I grew up a Michigan State fan, and Michigan State and Notre Dame used to play each other pretty often,” Thomas revealed. “And I kind of use the philosophy for my current customers that I used then, which is whichever one has the better chance of making the playoffs, that’s the team I’m rooting for. So, if we have an 8-0 customer going against a 4-3 customer, sorry 4-3.”