New organization, Dayton 6th, will support Dayton basketball players in NIL era

Brian Roberts among former players on advisory board

Brian Roberts wants his alma mater to stay competitive with the elite college basketball programs. The Dayton Flyers have the arena to do so. They have the fan base. They have the resources.

In the name, image and likeness era, programs must take the extra step of generating off-the-court income opportunities for the players. That’s why Roberts, the fourth-leading scorer in Dayton men’s basketball history, is on the advisory board of a new organization that announced its launch Wednesday: Dayton 6th.

An independent non-profit organization that is not affiliated with the University of Dayton, Dayton 6th aims to give fans a chance to invest in the men’s and women’s basketball programs through the athletes. Roberts knows Dayton 6th will be a point of discussion every time UD coaches talk to a recruit.

“That’s just the nature of where we’re at,” said Roberts, who was involved in Dayton basketball’s first NIL deal in July 2021. “I didn’t have to deal with any of this stuff. It was just, ‘Hey, come here. We’ve got a good program. We got a good thing going.’ So it is a totally different element that you have to consider when you’re trying to recruit. I think this helps put Dayton right up there with these bigger programs because on the court Dayton basketball is a big program. It is big time. This is just further allowing up-and-coming student athletes to be feel comfortable that they’re well taken care of.”

UD joins a growing list of programs — most from the Power 5 conferences — with these types of organizations supporting athletes. The recruiting website,, lists four collectives attached to Ohio State alone, including one, The O Foundation, focused only on basketball. Former Buckeyes D’Angelo Russell, Evan Turner, Mike Conley and Matt Terwilliger are on the board.

The Cincinnati Bearcats have the Cincy NIL Club, which “allows fans to donate directly to financially support 75-plus Cincinnati football players.” In the Atlantic 10 Conference, there’s the Massachusetts Collective, which launched last week. Toledo launched the first Mid-American Conference collective, Friends of Rocky, in June.

Roberts is on the Dayton 6th board with former Flyers George Janky and Keith Waleskowski. Matt Farrell, a former UD staff member during the Brian Gregory years, is the director of the organization. Local attorney Tom Whalen, an avid Dayton fan, is the community advisor.

Farrell spoke at a press conference Wednesday with Dayton basketball players DaRon Holmes II, Koby Brea, Destiny Bohanon and Mariah Perez at his side.

“Let me be clear that the men and women here with me today are the reason we’re introducing this initiative,” Farrell said. “It’s thanks to their continued commitment to high-level performance on the court and in the classroom that we’re here. These men and women not only represent everything about what it means to be a student-athlete at the University of Dayton, they also represent what it means to have a positive impact in our community. I’ve seen firsthand their willingness and excitement to engage with kids of all ages, fans, business leaders and members of our community.”

Holmes has played his entire career in the NIL era, which started about a month after he arrived on the UD campus in 2021. Brea, who remains sidelined by an injury that has kept him out the entire preseason but is nearing a return to practice, came to Dayton a year earlier when NIL was still a distant dream.

“It was in the air a little bit,” Brea said, “but nobody knew it was going to happen.”

Janky, Dayton’s leading scorer in the first season of UD Arena in 1969-70, explained why Dayton has to stay on top of things in the NIL era.

“What’s going on right now is the train’s leaving the station, and it’s a bullet train,” Janky said. “If you don’t get on it, you’re going to be left at the station. Our fans have just been awesome. I was fortunate enough to play three years at the old Fieldhouse and then my senior year was the first year at the arena, and we went from 5,600 people to over 13,000. The fans are just always there, and they’re the best.”

Waleskowski, whose Dayton career ended in 2004, echoed Janky’s thoughts.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the university, for the players, for the basketball program, for student-athletes as a whole,” he said. “It’s a constantly changing landscape — college sports. It’s something we have to participate in. It’s something we have to be a part of. We’ve got to play this game.”

The Dayton 6th website explains its mission.

“Our goal is clear — we must continue to make the Flyers a destination program for student-athletes from across the country and the world,” the website reads. “The landscape of college basketball has changed and the introduction of name, image and likeness (NIL) compensation to student-athletes has proven to be one of the most significant changes in college athletics history (and we are only at the beginning). In its brief history, NIL has become one of the primary influences on the student-athlete experience at every school across the country. We must face the new realities of college sports and remain an elite basketball program amid the current, hyper-competitive environment.”

On the website, fans can purchase a “ticket” for $50, $100, $200 or more. The first 1,000 fans who purchase a ticket will be mailed a Dayton 6th sticker.

“Your purchase of a ‘ticket’ through Dayton 6th is NOT an actual ticket to an event — live or otherwise,” the website explains. “The word ‘ticket’; is used by Dayton 6th to tie your financial contribution to the longstanding history of the Flyer Faithful and their support of the men’s basketball program through ticket sales (and more recently, women’s basketball which continues to rank at the top of the Atlantic 10). This decade-long tradition extends back to the days where the Flyer Faithful packed the on-campus Fieldhouse to watch the nationally ranked Flyers of the 1950s and 1960s. Your ticket provides Dayton 6th the opportunity to compensate the men’s and women’s players for a variety of community engagements throughout the 2022-2023 basketball season.”

Roberts sees Dayton 6th as an easier avenue for fans to get involved in the NIL era.

“The Dayton fans and community are always going to be a part of the Dayton basketball teams,” Roberts said, “and this is just an extra connection that can really draw them even closer to the players there.”

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