McKernan, local businesses working toward 'substantial' NIL backing for LSU
A ruling this summer allowing NCAA athletes to begin capitalizing off their name, image and likeness has opened a new avenue of the constant arms race in major college sports.
And Gordon McKernan and other local business owners are trying to work quickly, but carefully to help LSU keep up with its peers, he told 104.5 ESPN on Thursday.
The prominent Baton Rouge-based attorney expressed optimism that the group will be launching a joint "collective" within three to four months with commitment levels reaching more than $1 million.
"I do think that there's an arms race going on," McKernan said on the afternoon "After Further Review" show. "Just like the football facilities and things that you have to build to compete, you better be building an NIL program — 'you' being the community, the businesses around it — to help your athletes at your university that you support. That's what has to be happening.
"LSU, from my understanding — I haven't talked to them directly about it — they're looking at things. When I say LSU, TAF or other organizations that are maybe doing stuff. I know that myself and some other business owners are banding together quickly and have been and have begun organizing and raising commitment levels that will be substantial, that will be seven-figures, that will be million-dollars-plus easy, to get the word out that the business community here is going to support its NIL potential for the athletes that go to that school."
Gordon McKernan Injury Associates signed LSU women's basketball player Alexis Morris to the company's first NIL deal this month.
McKernan told "After Further Review" that he is also looking on additional deals with multiple prominent football players.
In the process, he is working to gain a better understanding of the logistics for the larger joint venture he and other local business owners are viewing as increasingly necessary.
"As you can imagine, other business owners who have a love for LSU are reading of these stories of Texas and Florida and South Carolina and Washington," he said. "And I believe there's close to 20 schools now that have what's come to be known as 'a collective' or 'an exchange,' right? And that's this sharing of business owners, and fans can get involved and help support these NIL athletes. And unfortunately here in Louisiana, our state law is a little unclear as to how it can be structured and organized and different standpoints. And we're trying to work through that.
"So we've been talking about that and figuring out what is the best way to advance this and quickly, because we need to get out there for the university, (football) coach (Brian) Kelly and all the programs, so that they can point to, 'Look, you're going to have opportunities for NIL if you come to LSU.' And I know they can't promise them that, but the kids will understand that there is a collective or an exchange in Louisiana for LSU athletes. So that's what we're talking about and trying to figure out the mechanism, the structure, the commitment levels and how quickly we can get it done."