Dayton men’s basketball players earn first compensation deal

Former UD star Brian Roberts involved in contract that will have athletes endorsing a rental property near campus

A local business, Flyer Faithful LLC, led by former Dayton Flyers star Brian Roberts, announced Thursday it will compensate Dayton Flyers men’s basketball players for endorsements.

The news came on the first day NCAA athletes can profit off the use of their names, images and likenesses. The group led by Roberts will be the first to engage with Dayton men’s basketball players in the new era of NIL rights.

“I believe this is a great opportunity and exciting time for student athletes, especially here in Dayton,” said Roberts, a 2008 UD graduate who ranks fourth in school history in scoring (1,962 points). “I know first hand the impact the Dayton community has on men’s basketball players and vice versa. With this new name, image, and likeness legislation passing both in the state of Ohio and at the NCAA, I believe the Dayton community’s support will be even more significant for today’s student athletes.

“We’re thrilled to do our part to support NIL compensation for the men’s basketball team under the current guidelines and look forward to other businesses joining us to do the same. I think I can speak for every former player and for all the Flyer faithful, we can’t wait to see UD Arena full again this upcoming season and reestablishing our place as one of the top venues in the country.”

Flyer Faithful LLC purchased real estate, which includes The Fieldhouse, a bar on Brown Street, in August 2020. The real estate also includes a rental property on Brown Street. The athletes will use their social media accounts to promote the availability of the rental property.

State Sen. Niraj Antani, R- Miamisburg, said the plan by Flyer Faithful LLC to compensate UD players is “exactly what we had in mind” when he and other lawmakers sponsored Ohio legislation to allow student athletes to profit from their likeness.

“It’s going to help the student-athlete, it’s going to help the business, and in turn, help our economy and the community,” he said. “This is exactly the type of thing we envisioned and I think we’re going to see more of this.”

Antani said he was happy, but not surprised, agreements are being made so quickly.

“There’s been a demand for this for a long time, it’s just not been legal,” he said.

Antani said the NCAA acted only after states pressed the issue. Laws in some states were set to change July 1 to allow college athletes to profit from their image, putting universities in other states at a recruiting disadvantage, he said.

An initial Ohio bill allowing student-athlete endorsement deals got scuttled, but Gov. Mike DeWine signed an executive order Monday. The measure was included as an amendment to state budget bill, which passed and was signed into law by DeWine early Thursday.

The amendment prohibits any college, university or intercollegiate athletic association from preventing a student athlete from competing for using their likeness to earn compensation. College athletes are allowed to engage with an agent, but are prohibited from entering into contracts where they will be associated with marijuana, alcohol, tobacco or casinos.

Matt Farrell, who was the director of basketball operations at UD from 2006-11 during Roberts’ career, is also a member of the Flyer Faithful LLC ownership group and a partner at 14fifty Partners. He praised Roberts’ leadership in a press release.

“The Dayton region is fortunate to have him as a meaningful stakeholder in our community,” Farrell said. “It is an exciting time for student-athletes across the country and we look forward to continuing to find ways to engage student-athletes at the University of Dayton.”

In an interview, Farrell called this an exciting time for college athletes across the country, especially in places like Dayton.

“Student-athletes play an important role in the community, and engaging with businesses is a great opportunity,” Farrell said.

Roberts was inducted into the UD Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017. He played five seasons in the NBA (2012-17) with the New Orleans, Charlotte and Portland. His overseas career has included stops in Israel, Germany, Greece and Spain.

“Since leaving the University of Dayton, myself, Jenna, and our family have remained close to the men’s basketball program and the athletic department,” Roberts said. “The same can be said for the Dayton community as many of my professional relationships have roots to my days of playing at UD Arena. Until we tip-off the 2021-22 season, this is but one small way to show our gratitude for what the University of Dayton means to our family. We look forward to having fans back in the stands, a sold out UD Arena, and countless memorable moments this season.”