Drew Brees on board, as Boilermaker Alliance aims for $6M a year in Purdue athlete NIL deals
Plus, are you going to see Justin Moore at Loeb Stadium tonight? Harrison teacher a finalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year. A new look for Lafayette Jeff’s Crawley Center
Thanks today for the ongoing support from sponsor Barash Law, which helped make this edition of the Based in Lafayette reporting project possible.
A This and That sort of midday Friday …
DREW BREES ON BOARD FOR BOILERMAKER ALLIANCE’S NIL PUSH
It was a whirlwind visit to the alma mater Thursday for Drew Brees. There was the ribbon cutting for the Everbowl franchise that the former Purdue and NFL quarterback opened in West Lafayette Village area’s Hi-Vine complex with Rose Bowl teammates Kelly Kitchel, Ben Smith and Jason Loerzel. There was the sideline view of Purdue’s brutal, last-minute loss to Penn State in the season opener at Ross-Ade Stadium that night.
On that, here’s a way in to J&C reporter Mike Carmin’s coverage from last night …
Tucked in Thursday’s visit, Brees was announced as the newest member – and the biggest presence – on the Boilermaker Alliance executive board. The new nonprofit group, separate from the university’s athletic department, was created to cut through a new Name, Image and Likeness landscape in NCAA sports and support financial package opportunities for Purdue’s 385 scholarship athletes.
The goal: Raise $6 million a year to pay athletes and work with other nonprofit organizations.
“We think we have a strategic advantage over every other university in the country because of Drew’s involvement,” Jeff McKean, president of the Boilermaker Alliance, said at a Thursday afternoon announcement at Bruno’s in West Lafayette. “When we first got started down this path, we assumed Drew’s a very busy guy … and we might get a sort of a token effort. But when we met with Drew, he said, ‘I believe in what you’re doing, I want to be involved.’”
Brees acknowledged the polarizing issues around NILs and how deals to pay athletes would change recruiting and college sports.
“To be quite honest with you, I think everyone’s just trying to figure out how to navigate it all,” Brees said. “Purdue has always led from the front. Purdue has always tried to be the model. Purdue has always tried to do things the right way and set an example for everyone else. I think this is yet another example, as we work through this, of how we can navigate this time by creating a program by which we can not only support our student athletes but put them in a position to be as successful as they can possibly be – not just on the field, not just in the classroom, but in their community.”
McKean said the Boilermaker Alliance is using a nonprofit strategy that pairs Purdue athletes with other nonprofit agencies or causes, whether in Greater Lafayette, across Indiana or where they’re from.
The idea, via the Boilermaker Alliance: The athletes will “amplify the reach of these charitable organizations in a way that is not otherwise possible,” by doing personal appearances, social media promotions, autograph sessions, camps or other work. In return, the Purdue athletes will be paid through Boilermaker Alliance.
McKean mentioned one Purdue athlete’s request to work something out with Natalie’s Second Chance, an animal shelter in Lafayette.
“It’s exactly the sort of thing we want to do with this,” McKean said.
The setup is arranged so contributions from alums and others are treated as charitable donations for tax purposes.
Recent examples: Zach Edey, center with the Purdue basketball team, recently struck a deal through the Boilermaker Alliance to work with a handful of Canadian organizations.
Rapheal Davis, one of the former Purdue players and BTN commentator on the Boilermaker Alliance advisory board, received support for his Crew Life Basketball Foundation, which offers camps and training for kids who might be priced out of travel circuits and private camps. The Boilermaker Alliance arranged an NIL deal that had Caleb Furst, a Purdue basketball player, take part in camps and the Bigger Than Basketball fundraiser in August in Fort Wayne, where Davis and Furst grew up. Other Purdue basketball alums – Robbie Hummel, Chris Kramer, Lewis Jackson – were there, too.
“It was beautiful,” Davis said Thursday. “We were able to triple our attendance. We were able to triple our donations. We were able to do a lot of great things.”
The Boilermaker Alliance work wouldn’t keep athletes from signing other NIL deals with commercial companies, according to the group’s fact sheets. And how much athletes are paid on individual deals hasn’t been revealed.
McKean said the effort was designed to keep Purdue at or near the top of the Big Ten when it comes to the NIL market.
(In terms of how NILs affect the arms race in recruiting, consider what happened when Purdue joined the chase to land Nijel Pack, who was in the transfer portal after seasons with Kansas State men’s basketball. The guard wound up at the University of Miami, after reportedly landing a two-year, $800,000 deal with LifeWallet and the promise of a car.)
Brees talked about the Boilermaker Alliance as a matter of character development, as well as financial education, by getting athletes out into communities as they prepare to graduate.
“This is something we’re going to have to navigate as we go along,” Brees said. “Who knows how things might change from the perspective of what the NCAA decides to do. We’re going to control what we can control, and that is supporting all 385 of our student athletes. Every single one of them will have the opportunity to be part of this program and benefit from it.”
ROUND 2 FOR LOEB STADIUM CONCERTS, JUSTIN MOORE TONIGHT: The city was busy this week turning Loeb Stadium into a concert venue for tonight’s show by country singer Justin Moore (“Bait a Hook,” “Why We Drink,” “Small Town USA”). The show marks the second national act since the $20 million rebuild of Columbian Park’s Loeb Stadium, following a June 30 show by America. Aerial shots (see above) by a Lafayette Fire Department drone Thursday caught an up-high view of how the stage and everything else was coming together. According to the city, a limited number of tickets remain, either from the Loeb Stadium box office, starting at noon, or at longpac.org. Check your inboxes Saturday morning for coverage of tonight’s show.
THE NEW CRAWLEY CENTER LOOK: Photos emerged this week from inside the Crawley Center, where Lafayette Jefferson High School wraps up $1.5 million in work to replace 50-year-old bleachers and redo the gym floor. Earlier this year, the LSC board voted to rename the court for the late Joe Heath, a graduate, longtime teacher, principal and basketball coach at Lafayette Jeff. Here’s a look inside, via Principal Mark Preston and the school’s Golden Broncho Club:
HARRISON’S AMANDA BECK AMONG TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: Shout out to Amanda Beck, a Harrison High School German teacher, who was on the list of 10 finalists for Indiana Teacher of the Year for 2023, released Friday by the Indiana Department to Education. Beck, a 15-year veteran teacher, was named Tippecanoe School Corp. secondary teacher of the year earlier this year. A statewide winner will be announced this fall, according to the state department of education. This is the second consecutive year a Tippecanoe School Corp. teacher has been a finalist for the honor. The current Indiana Teacher of the Year: Sharita Ware of TSC’s East Tipp Middle School.
Other reads …
IU HEALTH HOSPITALS SET OUT POST-ROE PLANS: Indiana University Health’s system, which includes IU Health Arnett Hospital in Lafayette along with 688 other sites across the state, spent part of Thursday explaining its plans for procedures and care after Sept. 15, when Indiana’s new, near-total ban on abortion goes into effect. The upshot, via reporting from Whitney Downard of the Indiana Capital Chronicle:
“‘We’re going to continue to provide abortion care – legal abortion care – in our state through our health system for our patients who need it. We know that abortion is safe, it is evidence-based and we will continue to provide that care within the parameters of the new law,’ said Dr. Caroline Rouse, the medical director of maternity services at Riley Maternity Tower.”
For a closer look at what that means, check Downard’s report here.
CORRECTION: In a story in Thursday’s edition about the Tippecanoe County sheriff reopening a missing person case from 1978, I wrote that Tracy Walker, then 15, had been a student at Tippecanoe Junior High School. I had my wires crossed on old Lafayette school history. Tippecanoe Junior High School was in the Old Jefferson High School on North Ninth Street, which now houses the Historic Jefferson Centre Senior Apartments. I had the school at the former Longlois Elementary, which is now McAllister Community Center, run by the Lafayette parks. Thanks to those who caught that early … and often.
Thanks, again, to the continued support from Based in Lafayette sponsor Barash Law. The firm helped make this edition of the reporting project possible.
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