A group called the We Are NIL Collective is going well beyond just putting money in the pockets of Penn State student-athletes.
Michael Krentzman, the founder of the football-centric collective, has been working to offer permanent total disability insurance for as many football players as are eligible. Redshirt junior right tackle Caeden Wallace was the first to be insured by the collective last month.
On Friday, Krentzman told The Inquirer, 13 more players have been deemed eligible after having actuaries analyze Penn State’s entire roster aiming to identify players with “legitimate professional opportunity.”
None of the 13 have had insurance purchased by the collective yet, but Krentzman said he feels they are “close on dollars.” He would not disclose the specific costs of individual policies. He did, however, reveal getting the entire list insured would be a “six-figure” endeavor. There’s also the hurdle of enticing players to make time to complete the necessary paperwork.
Krentzman has consulted Jim Ivler, an NFL agent with a Bachelor’s degree from Penn State who has represented several Nittany Lions, along with Zurich Insurance Group about how to dissect the roster to ascertain who was already insured and who was insurable.
The list of 13 includes a wide range of players from different positional groups with varying levels of remaining eligibility linked to a policy that ensures they can continue to receive partial income if they sustain injuries or are unable to play.
“The way the policy works is if you’re a senior or you’re going pro, the policy covers you until you sign your professional contract,” Krentzman said. “So if you hurt yourself at Pro Day, you’re covered. If you hurt yourself at the [NFL] Combine, you’re covered.
“If you’re an underclassman, it binds you for one year from when you sign… That means when they’re in a bowl game – and there’s not a reason why they shouldn’t play that game now – they’re covered. “
It is believed that quarterback Sean Clifford is not on the list. Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is not on the list because he is not insurable after suffering a season-ending leg injury last year. Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown are believed to be examples of top-tier players insured independently of the collective.
Freshmen Nick Singleton and Drew Allar along with redshirt junior Dvon Ellies are among the players eligible for total disability insurance.
The policy ensures players can continue to receive partial income if they sustain injuries or are unable to play.
“If a player has a career with no earning power and he has a $250,000 policy and he gets hurt, he’s just gonna say, ‘To hell with it. I’m out. Write me my check,’ said Krentzman. “The insurance company doesn’t want to be on the other side of that risk. However, Penn State produces a ton of really good football players who do have the ability to go onto the next level.”
Penn State currently has 44 alumni across 25 NFL rosters for the start of this season. Of the 44, 34 made their team’s active 53-man roster.
We Are NIL is also receiving support from the university, despite not being directly affiliated.
Krentzman and Penn State athletic director Pat Kraft have only met directly once. According to Krentzman, Kraft hired a consultant to act as a liaison between the athletic department and the various collectives. Pennsylvania state law has strict rules about direct contact between athletic departments and unaffiliated, booster-funded collectives.
Penn State coach James Franklin has been particularly supportive. There was a fundraiser at the Westmoreland Country Club in Export, Pa. that Krentzman organized, in part, helping raise “some seed money.” According to Krentzman, Franklin met with a room full of donors and spoke candidly about the state of the football team and the state of college athletics.
“There was not one person who walked out and was not really impressed with him,” Krentzman said. “He recognizes that this is really important.”