Jan. 19—MORGANTOWN — With the sweeping changes to the college sports landscape, perhaps most notably the name, image and likeness ruling allowing athletes to profit off themselves, a few prominent WVU alumni stepped up to start a new group to help create these opportunities for current Mountaineers athletes.
WVU alumni Ken Kendrick (1965) and Oliver Luck ('82) announced the formation of Country Roads Trust LLC, an independent company set up to obtain contributions to create NIL opportunities for Mountaineer student-athletes.
"We are proud to bring this program to Mountaineer Nation, " said Kendrick, principal owner /managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in a news release. "Recruiting in the college athletic world has never been more competitive, and the time has come where Mountaineer fans across the board can step up and give our Mountaineer athletes the same—if not more—opportunities as other student-athletes across the country."
Current WVU athletes, mainly football and men's basketball players, are already involved in several endorsement deals, including gridders Dante Stills, Doug Nester and Zach Frazier, as well as hoopers Jalen Bridges, Sean McNeil, Gabe Osabuohien and Taz Sherman.
The CRT will help expand available opportunities to compete against other Power 5 schools.
"This is a game-changer for Mountaineers student-athletes, " said Luck, a former WVU quarterback and athletic director. "The changing landscape of college athletics makes the coordinated services Country Roads Trust will offer the donors as well as the athletes a necessity. We want West Virginia University to attract the most competitive student-athletes, not only because of our fine land-grant institution, our excellent coaches, staff and facilities, but also because of top-notch NIL opportunities. We believe our Mountaineer athletes and fans deserve the very best."
The group also announced an "Athlete Advisory Team " of former WVU athletes, all volunteering, according to Kendrick. That group includes: Jerry West, Don Nehlen, Pat White, Darryl Talley, Da'Sean Butler, Mike Gansey, Ginny Thrasher, Pat McAfee, Jaida Lawrence Hart, and Jedd Gyorko. These alumni will help provide counsel, guidance and advice.
On top of endorsement opportunities, athletes will also be given the opportunity to be available for public speeches and other charitable events, while also being compensated.
Country Roads Trust is a company that is completely independent of WVU. However, the Trust is aligned closely with the mission of WVU and committed to serving the student-athletes. The goal is to help cultivate, arrange and facilitate NIL opportunities for WVU student-athletes.
Potential donors and businesses, as well as current WVU athletes, can receive more info at countryroadstrust.com.