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Maroon & Golden Collective aims to elevate the Bobcat football experience via NIL opportunities

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Madeline Carpenter

Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) has changed the landscape of collegiate athletics, and while it certainly brings positives and negatives at Texas State, Maroon & Golden NIL Collective LLC is determined to showcase its benefits to collegiate athletes.

Maroon & Golden was established before NIL was in existence by Justin Shaffer, co-founder and board member, as an online forum for Texas State athletics in December 2018. According to Shaffer, Maroon & Golden was created due to a lack of options for fans of Texas State athletics to engage and communicate with each other about athletics, academics, San Marcos and the university.

“There was a void when it came to [the Texas State] fanbase,” Shaffer said. “[Our fanbase] didn’t have an option to go online and talk with other fans outside of Twitter. I got together with some other fans and alumni that I met through Twitter, and we started talking about creating an online forum for the diehard Texas State fans.”

Shaffer said Maroon & Golden quickly got media credentials from the Texas State Athletic Department to cover games, and with the help of fellow board members Richard Lopez and Josh Brenner, they began to grow the platform to its current size.

According to Shaffer, Maroon & Golden migrated to involvement with NIL in July 2022 in the early fundraising stages for the renovation of the south endzone complex at University Federal Credit Union Stadium, raising $10,875 for the project from its contributors within a week.

“One of our forum members said, ‘Hey, we have all these diehard Texas State fans in one place. How about we get together as a group in a grassroots effort? We may be able to raise enough dollars to make an impact into a donation,’” Shaffer said.

Shaffer said the fundraising campaign sparked an idea amongst the Maroon & Golden community to contribute toward NIL.

With the help of former Texas State offensive lineman Thaddeus Watkins, who also serves as a board member, they created the company Maroon & Golden Collective LLC. Watkins’ role is to work with the athletes and handle all things NIL-related.

“I wanted to get involved [with Maroon & Golden] somehow someway [being] a former football player,” Watkins said. “[NIL] is the new landscape of [college] football. It’s important that [Texas State] has resources for the coaching staff first to retain the current roster and bring in talent when needed.”

Watkins said Maroon & Golden Collective’s first board meeting was held on January 3, and they discussed their goals to establish themselves as an NIL collective.

“Our original goal was to sign four to six players, and now we have 26 players signed, and that’s only possible because of all the alumni and donors who have supported us,” Watkins said. “This is the first time in college football history where the fans can actually dictate what [happens] on the field by helping retain the roster.”

According to Watkins, Maroon & Golden Collective’s NIL contracts are structured for athletes to receive financial compensation by creating content only available through their online forum. The athletes also partake in other contracted required deliverables such as meet and greets or dinner with fans.

“We’re a subscription-based collective,” Watkins said. “One of the deliverables in the contracts is the athletes have to do an M&G interview. How that works [is] we ask the forum, ‘What do you want to know about Jordan McCloud? Or what do you want to know about Joey Hobert and Ben Bell?’ So we’re creating something that is more of an intimate setting for the fans to really get to know the players.”

Maroon & Golden Collective currently has 26 Texas State football players signed to NIL contracts, one of which is senior safety Kaleb Culp. Culp said his contract not only helps him financially but sets him up for his future after graduation.

“As a college athlete trying to make ends meet, NIL is a lifeline,” Culp said in a statement after signing his contract with Maroon & Golden Collective. “NIL [allows us] to breathe a bit easier, knowing we can earn a bit of money while still giving our all on the field.”

Watkins said the goal is for Maroon & Golden Collective to sign every player on the Texas State football roster and eventually expand into other sports.

“Right now, our primary focus is football,” Watkins said. “[Football’s] where most money is spent at any major university [regarding] NIL. I would love to get everybody… [signed] because I was a former football player and I know how important every single person on the roster is whether you’re on scholarship or not.”

With the start of the 2024-25 season quickly approaching, Shaffer said Maroon & Golden Collective has many goals they want to accomplish moving forward, the biggest of which is continuing to grow as an NIL collective.

“[Our] primary focus is growth and sustainability,” Shaffer said. “As a collective, I think that’s what is going to have the biggest impact in allowing [Texas State] to have a competitive edge against other [programs] who are looking at how to get into the [NCAA] playoff system. That’s where [Maroon & Golden Collective] can have an impact in the new college [football] landscape.”

To learn more about Maroon & Golden Collective LCC visit Maroon&Golden.com.

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