In light of Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young securing almost a million dollars in endorsement deals before his first game, pioneering anti-amateurism activist Jeremy Bloom announced Wednesday his company’s intention to spend seven figures on the other end of the bench.
Bloom, a former Olympic skier and standout wide receiver at Colorado, waged a revolutionary legal battle against the NCAA in the mid-aughts over his college football eligibility, after he earned money through ski endorsements. The NCAA ultimately declared him ineligible, prompting Bloom to enter the 2006 NFL Draft at the end of his sophomore season.
Following this ordeal, Bloom became a public advocate against the NCAA’s amateurism policies, stating his case before Congressional panels and numerous media outlets, all while transitioning from playing sports to co-founding a marketing software company, Integrate, in 2010.
Bloom says his clashes with the college sports establishment and his experience as a scrappy, undersized football player informed his company’s angle into the nascent NIL space: Integrate plans to exclusively target walk-ons and other under-the-radar athletes in the lower-profile sports.
As an extension of his college reform advocacy, Bloom says his company’s initiative, “College Game Changers,” serves to strike a final blow at a timeworn trope used by defenders of amateurism—that name, image and likeness reform would only ever benefit “household names” at schools such as Alabama.
“I’ve heard it ad nauseam,” said Bloom.
Now, 15 years after the NCAA brought his college football career to a premature end, Bloom seems happy to return the favor to a shibboleth of the status quo.
“Look, we’re a company that is doing very well,” Bloom said of Integrate, headquartered in Phoenix. “We’re not Nike, but we’re doing very well. We can allocate a million dollars and spend it over the next couple years in college athletics, and it is not going to the household names. In fact it is not going to the scholarship athletes…. It perfectly flies in the face of that narrative.”
Nevertheless, Bloom insists the plan is not merely an act of social conscience, believing that a roster of walk-ons will bring brand recognition and earned media to Integrate.
“We believe deeply that these people have a real important story to tell,” Bloom said. “America loves an underdog—I think there is a whole group of people this will resonate with.”