Three months ago, the NCAA allowed college athletes to make their own money. Fourteen months later, they’re implementing NFTs.
OCAVU Meets BYU
OCAVU first made a name for itself as SEEK, a 3D product visualization company. When the company was still SEEK, it launched its NFT platform at a VR/AR Association event.
“I think, in the future, all of this content is going to be in 3D. When we jump into these different places, they’re going to be in 3D,” said CEO Jon Cheney.
Complete with its own coin and minting process, OCAVU subsequently partnered with EcoCart to – among other things – implement a carbon tracker.
“Now we are in a place where we can direct our focus to initiatives we believe in,” Cheney said at the time.
Now, OCAVU has a new partnership with Brigham Young University. The result is CougsRise, slated to be “the world’s largest fan engagement platform that allows fans to support athletes through NFT experiences.”
Until recently, college athletes weren’t allowed to officially make money off of being college athletes. However, the National College Athletics Association changed this policy in June 2021, allowing college athletes to profit from their own name, image, and likeness (NIL) in many of the same ways that professional athletes do.
This opened up opportunities for college athletes who often had trouble supporting themselves financially on top of rigorous athletic schedules and their academic course loads. However, there wasn’t a great deal of infrastructure or established monetization pipelines for the athletes, seeing as monetization had previously not been allowed.
“The launch of CougsRise.com allows unprecedented access for the most loyal fans in the country and creates the opportunity for Cougar student-athletes to earn money in an NCAA-compliant and easy way,” BYU Associate Athletic Director for Corporate Sponsorships, Casey Stauffer, said in a release shared with ARPost.
How the NFTs Work
Users buy Non-fungible tokens. These NFTs already have their own personal and collectible value. However, they can also be “redeemed” by the holder for unique experiences. Think watching private training sessions, participating in pre-game events, etc.
“From the beginning, our discussions with BYU made it clear that Web3 can be a game changer for NIL deals,” Cheney said in the release. “Both organizations recognized the value of creating real-world utility with Web3, as opposed to just using Web3 for the sake of Web3.”
While we haven’t had a look at the first round of NFTs yet, we can expect some interesting content from OCAVU. We’ve already seen some interesting applications of AR in fan engagement, recently from the San Diego Padres and Motorola.
We know that OCAVU knows Web3 and that they understand the relationship between physicality and collectibility that makes sports memorabilia so appealing. The release shared with ARPost said that the NFTs “will display many artifacts from the university’s illustrious history in athletics in 3D and augmented reality.”
A Lot to Look Forward To
We’re looking forward to seeing the development of the CougsRise collection. We’d also like to see other universities engage in similar partnerships. There’s a lot of passion and energy in college athletics, and XR NFTs are a great emerging medium to explore it.