Spyre Sports launches new NIL opportunity for Tennessee athletes with nonprofit Volunteer Legacy

Fans checker Neyland Stadium before Tennessee’s football game against Florida in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

The leadership at Spyre Sports saw an opportunity in the name, image and likeness landscape to focus on enriching the Knoxville community.

So they created Volunteer Legacy, a nonprofit organization within the framework of NIL.

“We can use it for good,” said Brandon Spurlock, vice president of fundraising and engagement with Volunteer Legacy.

Volunteer Legacy launched Tuesday with a mission of providing youth with opportunities to engage with Tennessee athletes to positively affect their lives and foster skills, ranging from leadership to creativity. It will serve as a conduit between UT athletes and charitable programs, using NIL to connect the community in a manner beyond the most-publicized NIL deals.

“No one has done that," said Grant Frerking, a Tennessee wide receiver and Volunteer Legacy board member. "All these deals have been about the athletes and the dollar amount. The athlete can get a whole lot more out of a relationship with a kid they foster during their years at the university.”

More:Why Tennessee's Hendon Hooker, Cedric Tillman were in Times Square before SEC Media Days

More:How NCAA restrictions on NIL collectives could impact Tennessee Vols recruiting

More:How new Tennessee law allows colleges to facilitate NIL payments to players

The vision for Volunteer Legacy is to create steady and sustainable relationships and partnerships between UT athletes and community-focused organizations.

Spurlock mentioned visits to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital or visits to after-school programs through Emerald Youth Foundation as early staples of the partnerships. Such opportunities will be offered at no cost to children or families. He also noted athletes can use social media to create an audience and increase visibility for good causes and charities within the community.

“We are trying to embrace the rules that have been thrust upon us and use it for good to make an impact,” Spurlock said. “We are trying to increase support and this is a way for us to do that while we are looking out for the greater good.”

The process to launch Volunteer Legacy started more than six months ago. It began with conversations with supporters of UT athletics who showed a desire to financially support this kind of platform. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, any donations are tax deductible.

“We will appeal to a whole different group of individuals that may or may not have strong feelings toward NIL, but they have a strong feeling toward community service work and doing things in Knoxville and the state,” Spurlock said.

Frerking, who has been involved in NIL education from its onset, lauded the possibilities for partnerships between more than 500 UT athletes and organizations within Knoxville. Volunteer Legacy hopes to show a different narrative around NIL, beyond earnings and into community impact.

“This is helping support Tennessee athletes to have the best opportunities as they are here in Knoxville and on campus,” Spurlock said.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Spyre Sports launches Tennessee NIL nonprofit Volunteer Legacy