BLACKSBURG, Va. – The world of college athletics is one that is ever-changing, and the distant dream that athletes could profit off of their name, image, and likeness, was turned into a reality just one year ago.
“I am a commodity, I want to make money off of myself, so how do I do that?” Virginia Tech forward Justyn Mutts said. “So now, athletes are encouraged to do that at a younger age instead of being thrown into the real world with no help around you. Now, we have such an amazing opportunity to be able to start working on this business aspect around amazing mentors and people who really care about us.”
For Justyn, that person was Nick Rush, a Christiansburg native and lifelong Hokie, who thanks to his background in politics, was well versed on the NIL landscape.
“I served the area in the Virginia General Assembly for ten years. As a huge college sports fan, in particular Virginia Tech, I followed that court case from California all the way to the Supreme Court,” Rush said. “So when it was announced that the Supreme Court ruled that college athletes could profit off of their name, image, and likeness, I helped draft the language that Virginia used for the law in Virginia.”
After leaving the General Assembly, Rush felt his skills could be useful in this new era of college athletics, and Commonwealth NIL was born.
“Honestly, we thought the athlete would be more driven by the cash, but I have not met with one player or one player’s parents that haven’t said, our main focus is academics and athletics. ‘Nick, we don’t want to take from that. We want opportunities but we will look them over when you bring them to us’.”
“I feel as though it’s a huge benefit because at some point that ball is going to stop bouncing and I want to be prepared to step into the adult world you know?” Mutts added.
And it all starts with connections.
“That’s going to be our goal, and our goal is going to be to engage all of Hokie Nation and turn our athletes into stars and stars into our athletes, that’s our mission statement and we’re going to do that by putting people first,” Rush said. “I think if you put people first, and do the right thing, the opportunities will come.”