UW does NIL differently UW does NIL differently UW does NIL differently

A nonprofit spearheads the UW’s efforts to help student-athletes benefit from name, image, likeness deals.

By Jon Marmor | March 2023

Two years ago, college sports were forever changed when the NCAA changed its policy prohibiting student-athletes from earning money for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). This opened a new world for the University of Washington’s student-athletes, coaches and administrators. The UW and Montlake Futures, the primary collective handling NIL deals for Husky student-athletes, have used the University’s values as the guiding light to deal with this new world of opportunities.

Under the NCAA’s new rules, student-athletes can be paid by third parties but not by universities, who are also restricted by NCAA rules from arranging and facilitating deals for student-athletes. These rule changes led to the creation of “collectives,” small organizations that are not officially affiliated with universities but deal directly with student-athletes and NIL activities. “We are building the plane while we fly it,” says Jamaal Walton, the UW’s senior associate athletic director in charge of sports administration and strategic initiatives.

While there have been stories of high-profile athletes (mostly football or men’s basketball players) jumping from one school to another because of a multimillion-dollar NIL deal, in reality that’s rare, UW athletics officials say. Also rare is the way the UW has undertaken NIL efforts in a direction different from most schools.

Montlake Futures is the primary NIL source for UW student-athletes. It is a lean-staffed, 501(c)(3) organization that seeks out and develops NIL opportunities. To date, it has funded nearly 200 deals and facilitated (that is, consulted on, for no charge) nearly 100 additional deals.

What differentiates Montlake Futures from many other collectives is that it is a nonprofit and does not receive a cut from the fundraising opportunities provided to Husky student-athletes.

What differentiates Montlake Futures from many other collectives is that it is a nonprofit and does not receive a cut from the fundraising opportunities provided to Husky student-athletes. While individuals can reach out directly to student-athletes for NIL deals without the help of a collective, working with Montlake Futures gives them an advantage “because we can develop NIL opportunities that benefit our community,” says Emmy Armintrout, executive director of Montlake Futures.

Collectives such as Montlake Futures are not officially connected to the UW. “Our role is to provide a structure for the UW community to support NIL. We do so by raising tax-deductible donations and paying student-athletes to do NIL work for nonprofit organizations,” Armintrout explains. Student-athletes are not required to work with collectives; they can find  and develop their own deals through opendorse.com or serve as ambassadors for such brands as adidas, an official partner of the UW athletic department.

“I think it can be difficult for some people to wrap their heads around NIL and how it has (and will) change the landscape of college athletics,” says Patrick Crumb, ’88, a founding adviser to Montlake Futures and former board president of the UW Alumni Association. He is president of regional sports networks at Warner Bros. Discovery, AT&T SportsNet and ROOT Sports Networks. “But NIL is here to stay and in order for the UW to remain competitive, there must be NIL opportunities available for our student-athletes. That’s why we formed Montlake Futures—to provide UW student-athletes with the opportunity to receive compensation for their time and the value of their name, image and likeness. That having been said, it was always important to those of us in the founding group that we go about it the right way, in a way consistent with UW values.”

NIL is here to stay and in order for the UW to remain competitive, there must be NIL opportunities available for our student-athletes.

Patrick Crumb, ’88, Montlake Futures adviser

Montlake Futures has raised money or built awareness of such organizations as Seattle Children’s, Project Dawghouse (student-athlete housing subsidies near the UW campus), the Humane Society and the Hunger Intervention Program.

While the UW is not involved in creating or administering the deals with the student-athletes, it does play a critical role in providing education for student-athletes as well as support and mentoring from coaches and administrators. For instance, UW athletics administrators have met with players and coaches from all 22 sports programs to go over such topics as what they are interested in and what they value. Another area where the UW  stands out is a partnership between the athletic department and the Foster School of Business. UW athletics and the Foster School announced a for-credit course—one of the first of its kind—dedicated to educating students on key name, image and license topics such as personal brand development and strategy, business and entrepreneurship, and opportunity evaluation. The goal of the course is not only to allow student-athletes to successfully navigate NIL but also to provide broader business education to any student interested in a sports or sports-adjacent career.

The information and education the UW provides is absolutely invaluable, given that Washington state has no state NIL law. “There is a lot of complexity to this,” Walton says. “What we can do is provide student-athletes the information and education so they can be successful in the deals they do decide to accept.”

NIL at a glance

Student-athletes deal primarily with “collectives,” small organizations set up to connect them to fundraising opportunities. Montlake Futures is the primary collective for the UW, but other local collectives work with Husky student-athletes. The world of NIL is continually evolving. This is the most current information as University of Washington Magazine went to press in late February.

How can student-athletes cash in on NIL?

  • Social media promotions and influencer activities
  • Sale of autographs
  • Starting their own business
  • Appearance in TV or print advertisements
  • Other endorsements of a third party
  • Providing private sport lessons or running a camp or clinic
  • Personal appearances

What makes the UW’s NIL efforts unique?

The UW athletic department’s arrangement with the Foster School of Business to provide financial and business education to student-athletes.

Can universities use NIL in recruiting prospective student-athletes?

The NCAA prohibits the use of NIL in recruiting.

What makes Montlake Futures different than other collectives?

It is a nonprofit organization that does not take a cut of payments to student-athletes or charitable organizations. It raises money to fund NIL deals that benefit charitable organizations.

Types of opportunities Montlake Futures has funded and the organization
that benefitted:

  • Camps: ReJoyce Academy, Boys and Girls Club, Richmond Youth Football
  • Fundraiser Appearances: Seattle Children’s, Hunger Intervention Program, Treehouse,
    Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • Good will and Awareness-Generation Appearances: Forgotten Children’s Fund, 4C Coalition
  • Marketing: Humane Society, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters

More information:

Pictured at top: At top center, basketball player Trinity Oliver enjoys some puppy love while lending a helping hand at the Seattle Humane Society. At top right, football players Devin Culp, Kristopher Moll, Giles Jackson and Alphonzo Tuputala work at an event for the Hunger Intervention Program. At bottom, 19 football players take part in an awareness campaign for the American Heart Association, “Go Red for Women.” Later, all 19 shared photos and information about women’s heart health with their social media audiences.