Washington State-Preview Football

In this Nov. 23, 2019, file photo Washington State running back Max Borghi (21) celebrates with fans after Washington State defeated Oregon State 54-53 in an NCAA college football game in Pullman, Wash.

College athletes in Washington still can’t capitalize on their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), but Max Borghi and multiple high-profile athletes from the state are moving in that direction.

The athletes started sharing graphics Tuesday night conveying their interest in NIL opportunities in anticipation of an NCAA meeting this week that could change the game for college athletes when it comes to amateurism.

Although Washington isn’t one of the seven states that will have NIL laws in place on Thursday, the NCAA could pass a temporary waiver that allows athletes in the other states to begin taking advantage of NIL opportunities.

Borghi, a fourth-year running back who may be the most recognizable, and therefore the most marketable, student-athlete in Pullman, began inviting NIL opportunities via his Twitter and Instagram accounts with a graphic that mirrored those later shared by football teammate Ron Stone Jr. and volleyball player Julianna Dalton.

“I am extremely excited to maximize on my Name, Image and Likeness goals at Washington State! Please feel free to contact me in regards to any business opportunities! Go Cougs!!” Borghi wrote in a Twitter caption.

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A quote box inside the graphic offered more words from Borghi on the NIL opportunities in store for WSU’s preseason All-American tailback and college athletes across the country.

“I believe the passing of Name, Image and Likeness will help me reach my goals as it will allow for me to use my platform to build more on the field, and off the field opportunities for my future,” the graphic read. “I am excited to break the barriers we as student-athletes had and seek my true potential.”

Each graphic included a logo with the text, “The Cougar Pursuit,” suggesting the name of WSU’s official NIL program, which is expected to be unveiled this week.

One week ago, Gonzaga’s athletic department released its own iteration, launching the “Next Level” program. According to a school release, the program “will focus on personal brand management, financial literacy, business and entrepreneurship, social media, and NIL legislation.”

Stone , a rdshirt junior “edge” rusher who’s emerged as one of the Cougars’ defensive leaders since he arrived on campus, penned a note for his graphic.

“I think that NIL will give me the opportunity to expand my brand and work on more of the skills that I will need in my future,” Stone wrote.

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A sophomore outside hitter on WSU’s volleyball team who earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honors in 2020, Dalton indicated in her graphic that NIL laws will help her grow her social media brand and aid in her pursuit of becoming a web influencer.

“I believe that Name, Image and Likeness will help me reach my goals as a growing student-athlete looking to use her name and grow a brand,” Dalton wrote. “I personally will be excited for this opportunity because I have always wanted to grow my following on social media, become an influencer and share my experiences as a DI player.”

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On Monday, the NCAA’s Division I Council recommended an interim NIL policy that would bridge the gap until federal legislation is passed.

The NCAA’s Board of Governors will convene on Wednesday, the day before NIL laws take effect in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas.

Theo Lawson can be reached at (509) 939-5928 or theol@spokesman.com.