Georgia Tech NIL collective ‘Swarm the ATL’ to launch Wednesday

Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims promoted the “Swarm the ATL” collective opening for business from his social-media account Tuesday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims promoted the “Swarm the ATL” collective opening for business from his social-media account Tuesday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Georgia Tech athletes can begin to benefit soon from a name, image and likeness collective that is set to launch Wednesday. Tech football players Jeff Sims and LaMiles Brooks and men’s basketball player Deebo Coleman promoted the “Swarm the ATL” collective opening for business from their social-media accounts Monday.

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The collective, an organization with the purpose of distributing NIL money to a school’s athletes that is funded by supporters of that school, is being organized by Tech alumnus Stephen Weitzel with the support of NIL agency Dreamfield.

“The biggest thing now is going to be, we’ve got to see engagement from the fan base,” Weitzel said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re already behind so many of our peers in terms of getting something out there that it’s good that we’re going to have something that’s live and so we’re not going to have that held against us. But we’ve got to have engagement from the fans to make sure that we’re able to compete with the other teams in our division and in our league.”

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Collectives have become influential in recruiting and retention efforts as many prospects both in high school and in the transfer portal have made the NIL opportunities available at colleges a factor in their decisions, much like facilities or opportunity for playing time. The existence of a collective at a school is a demonstration that opportunities to earn NIL money are more readily available than at other schools without them. Besides Tech, boosters at nine ACC schools are known to have established NIL collectives. Perhaps most notably, a collective at Texas has committed to giving every Longhorns scholarship offensive lineman $50,000 annually.

Barring unexpected engagement, compensation levels for Yellow Jackets athletes will be far below that. The goal for Dreamfield is to have 100 subscribers in the first 10 days from launch. Fees from subscribers will go to Tech athletes in exchange for their participation in meet-and-greets (in-person and virtual), online chats and youth sports camps and clinics. Price points range from $10 to $500 per month. Other perks, such as fan apparel and opportunities to watch games from suites or courtside, may also be available. Fans can also make a one-time contribution and earmark it for a particular team.

“Right now, the difference is going to be going from nothing to anything, which is a major leap in the right direction,” Weitzel said. “Ultimately, the ability for us to be able to have NIL deals that we do for all Georgia Tech student-athletes is going to be determined by how much participation we have in these collectives.”

Weitzel went on to say of Tech fans that “if we’re not going to play the game the way it’s played now, then we’re going to be competing against Emory.”

Weitzel said he would like for the Tech collective to be on par in membership with a Florida State collective that is also run by Dreamfield. In April, membership for the FSU collective (Warpath) and one at Central Florida (Mission Control, also run by Dreamfield) was well into triple digits within a couple months of launch, according to Dreamfield.

Besides having Sims, Brooks and Coleman enlisted as ambassadors for Swarm the ATL, Weitzel said there are plans to add more from women’s teams. The website for the collective – www.swarmtheatl.com/home – was active Tuesday, with the public launch set for Wednesday. Dreamfield external affairs director Corey Staniscia told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a few Tech fans already had found the website and registered as members.

“So we’re 5% there already,” Staniscia said, referring to the membership goal.