At the intersection of evolving NIL policies and explosive NFT growth, Tim Tebow-founded Campus Legends will put out its first set of school and athlete-licensed college sports digital collectibles starting this week. Fittingly, Campus Legends is beginning with the Florida Gators.
Tebow’s 2008 national championship team will be featured in the drop, joined by current and former players across football, baseball, gymnastics and softball. Michigan State collectibles will also soon be available via a mix of packs, single-item sales and auctions.
Campus Legends cofounder Kyle Roosen said the idea for the startup first emerged this spring, when other companies contacted Tebow about helping him release NFTs. His response was to identify how former college players could use the NFT craze to benefit from their fame after being limited by NCAA rules when they were in college.
“These college athletes help create so many great memories for fans and work so hard, but sometimes when they leave school, they’re forgotten,” Tebow said in a statement. “To me, Campus Legends is way more than NFTs and digital collectibles. It’s special to me because we have the chance to use this progress in technology and NIL to support the athletes not only when they’re in school, but afterwards as well.”
With plans to feature a vast range of schools, Campus Legends is restricting its NFTs to its own platform, which will also host a secondary marketplace. Both athletes and the school will receive ongoing royalty payments as their collectibles are bought and sold. A portion of sales will also be evenly distributed among active college players, meaning sales of Tebow collectibles will benefit current Florida athletes. Some proceeds will also help former athletes in need.
“This partnership creates innovative NIL opportunities for current and past student-athletes, while offering fans and alumni new and meaningful ways to stay engaged with the Gators,” Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement when the school’s partnership was announced last month.
Due to the NCAA’s complicated—and evolving—rights system, schools and students have generally been behind the pros when it comes to developing NFT offerings, with many early offerings coming without school logos. Elsewhere in Florida, Florida State University QB McKenzie Milton and University of Miami QB D’Eriq King teamed up to found Dreamfield, which sells digital trading cards without team images on NFT marketplace OpenSea. Candy Digital has launched a college NFT offering, Sweet Futures, that also offers images of players with school marks removed.
But colleges are catching up. NFT company Recur has locked up digital video collectible rights for the Pac-12 and others after hitting a $333 million valuation off a $50 million Series A that included investment from a fund backed by Mets owner Steve Cohen. The convergence of changes in NIL legislation and blockchain technology are allowing fans to support college athletes more directly and in entirely new ways. Roosen said the company is currently advising athletes not to sign exclusive NFT deals, as he expects multiple opportunities to develop.
“We want to take the average fan that loves the 2008 Gators or loves the current Michigan State guys, and we want to give them a way to support these athletes, but also collect and trade something,” Roosen said. “We see ourselves as bringing those two—the tech community and the fan community—together around this because this is one of the first ways that I as a fan can buy something that I know is going to go back to that athlete and to the school that I love.”