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BYU announces joint athletic department and NIL partnership with NFT marketplace

By Jared Lloyd - | Aug 16, 2022

Courtesy BYU Photo

BYU senior defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea sits by his locker before the scrimmage at LaVell Edward Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022.

Are you looking for more ways to support BYU athletics but don’t have a business or an enormous amount of resources?

Or maybe you want something unique when it comes to the the Cougars that you want to enjoy owning, something that has a special meaning to you.

In either case, the new partnership between BYU athletics, Cougar players and Web3 developer Ocavu might provide the opportunities you’ve been looking for.

Those groups teamed up to launch CougsRise.com, what they are calling “the world’s largest fan engagement platform that allows fans to support athletes through NFT experiences.”

“This has been in the works for several months and has gone through lots of twists and turns along the way,” said Casey Stauffer, BYU associate athletic director for corporate sponsorships, during a press conference on Tuesday. “But we’re finally here. What it really is an experience platform that we have developed over time to not only support our student athletes, but also the athletic department in a very compliant way. The marketplace will be able to offer our fans experiences that are driven by the utility of owning these entities in partnership with Ocavu.”

BYU freshman kicker Cash Peterman was the official spokesperson of the players at the press conference and recalled the early meetings with Ocavu to discuss the NFT marketplace idea.

“We got in the team room and they explained a lot about it,” Peterman said. “Everyone was super-excited because they were explaining that all we had to do is do what we love, play football and be good at it, which was different that what we were often hearing with NILs. But after the meeting, everyone was like, what’s an NFT? What’s Web3? What’s all that?”

Peterman started working with Ocavu and came to understand some of the details behind the marketplace concept.

“It is amazing because we are setting BYU on a different path to where we basically have our own trading cards and we’re being able to interact with fans,” Peterman said. “That’s what it’s really about, about players meeting fans and enjoying the game, just getting involved with our community and those around us. There’s a great, great opportunity to step out there and meet all the fans and interact with them.”

Jon Cheney, a BYU graduate and the CEO of Ocavu, explained that the current rollout of the initial CougsRise.com marketplace focuses on what they call three aspects of Cougar football: Relics (images of trophies or other memorabilia), Moments (video clips of memorable plays), and Athlete Limited Editions (special opportunities with players and coaches).

“Ultimately you can come to the marketplace to buy, trade and sell NFTs,” Cheney said. “Other platforms do this but often it’s just a speculation game. That’s not what we are about and I don’t think it is what BYU is about. It’s experiences that matter.”

Ocavu has a corporate sponsorship with BYU and NIL contracts with many Cougar athletes, giving it the ability to provide potential benefits to each group in different ways.

“Ocavu has inventory assets that they have as part of the corporate sponsorship in that we have granted them the right to use marks and logos, which is a critical piece in them being able to then act as an agency of sorts for the student athletes,” Stauffer said. “Now the company can sign these student-athletes to NIL deals as a third party. Ocavu is kind of the clearinghouse so we don’t run afoul of any NCAA guidelines.”

Peterman said he believes there are a lot of long-term potential benefits from what the marketplace can become.

“I think the sky’s the limit with this,” Peterman said. “As much effort as we put into it, we’ll get out of it. So if the players latch on like they already have in the locker room, they know that this is going to be here. They know if there are moments like Tyler Allgeier’s punch from last year get put up, not only does he benefit but the whole team benefits as well. As much as we put in we’re probably gong to get out of it and I think these guys love that.”

While the initial rollout is focused on football, the goal is for the marketplace to expand to include all BYU sports and as many athletes as decide to get involved. It’s still early in the process but Cheney and Stauffer both expressed optimism about how many possibilities could be available in the future.

To explore the current marketplace and see what is available, go to http://CougsRise.com.

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