The Foundation, Ohio State NIL collective, raises six figures for deal with four players

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

The Foundation, a third-party collective supporting Ohio State, says it has raised more than half a million dollars to fund a joint name, image and likeness deal for several of the Buckeyes’ star football players.

Brian Schottenstein, the co-founder of the nonprofit organization, said the agreement totals a combined $550,000 for quarterback C.J. Stroud, running back TreVeyon Henderson, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and cornerback Denzel Burke.

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As part of the terms, Burke and Henderson will promote American Eagle Outfitters, and Smith-Njigba and Stroud will plug Designer Shoe Warehouse. Stroud is pushing Value City Furniture, as well.

They will all also work with The Foundation’s partner charities, a group that includes Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, A Kid Again and LifeTown Columbus.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud will team with receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba to promote Designer Shoe Warehouse. Stroud also is representing Value City Furniture.

Fundraising event scheduled Aug. 22

The four players will be a part of a fundraising event held by the collective on Aug. 22 at which children with special needs from LifeTown and others with life-threatening conditions from A Kid Again will be in attendance, in addition to making other public appearances.

“I think there is a lot of pride,” Schottenstein said, “but I’m really passionate about Ohio State's athletics, particularly the football and basketball programs, and I love the three charities that we are involved with.

“So I put all my passions into one nonprofit. I really enjoy giving back to those areas. That part has been really nice. And it’s nice to see the results paying off.”

It’s the largest deal The Foundation has put together since launching in March, and Schottenstein believes it’s the biggest joint NIL deal for Ohio State athletes since they were first allowed to receive compensation for the use of their fame and celebrity last summer.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) will team with receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) to promote Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Who negotiated the deal for Ohio State players?

NIL Management, an agency based in Columbus, helped negotiate the deal and represented the players.

The development is significant in a burgeoning era of player compensation in college football.

Over the past few months, boosters and alumni across the country have formed collectives to support specific schools, pooling money from deep-pocketed donors and passionate fans.

Their emergence is a potential draw for high school recruits or an incentive for current players to remain with the program instead of entering the transfer portal.

Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson will team with cornerback Denzel Burke to promote American Eagle Outfitters.

Why NIL opportunities are important for Ohio State

NIL opportunities are seen as significant factors for teams in retaining their rosters.

At a gathering of businesspeople at Ohio State last month, coach Ryan Day estimated that $13 million in annual NIL money is needed to retain the Buckeyes’ roster.

Collectives will have a role in that in reaching that target.  

Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba will team with quarterback C.J. Stroud to promote Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Schottenstein believes The Foundation is on the radar of prospects and making an impact on the recruiting trail, where the Buckeyes are pushing for the top-ranked class in the 2023 cycle.

“I think recruits knowing that we have this in place, and we have a lot of businesses that are supporting our collective, our foundation, it’s definitely helping them make a decision to come to Ohio State versus other schools,” Schottenstein said.

Schottenstein, a Columbus real estate executive and Ohio State booster, took the first steps toward forming a collective last winter with former national championship-winning quarterback Cardale Jones.

It was in response to a handful of schools in the South forming their own ambitious collectives around the early signing period in December.

Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke will team with running back TreVeyon Henderson to promote American Eagle Outfitters.

In one highly publicized instance, Texas boosters created a nonprofit entity called Horns with Heart, set up to pay each offensive lineman $50,000 in exchange for charity work.

“I didn’t want to get left behind,” Schottenstein said.

At that point, no collective backing Ohio State had been formed. Two weeks after The Foundation launched, another collective known as the Cohesion Foundation was established.

For The Foundation, the six-figure deal for Burke, Henderson, Smith-Njigba and Stroud marks one of its early successes in the NIL arms race.

“We’re starting to finally be able to follow up with our words when we first launched,” Schottenstein said. “We’re actually coming through with a successful collective.”

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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