LinkingCoogs, a Houston Cougars NIL collective, officially open for business

LinkingCoogs, the University of Houston’s first Name, Image and Likeness collective, launched on Friday, October 7, inside of TDECU Stadium. (Andy Yanez/Gallery Sports)

LinkingCoogs, a Houston Cougars NIL collective, officially open for business

The University of Houston’s first Name, Image and Likeness, or NIL, collective had its official launch on Friday.

LinkingCoogs was formed to help UH athletes secure deals with local and national brands and profit from their NIL.

“First priority is to help student-athletes navigate the NIL complex landscape and keep them eligible to continue to play college athletics at a high level,” said Austin Elrod, a UH alumnus who also played quarterback for the Cougars from 2007-11.

Elrod is one of the collective’s founders along with Troy Kyle, Norman Stalarow and Greg Ralph, all of whom own their own businesses. Former Houston Cougars men’s basketball guard Landon Goesling was also brought on to join the team of LinkingCoogs.

The Houston Cougars NIL collective works closely with multiple companies. Depending on what each individual company is looking for, LinkingCoogs gauges and helps connect each company with a UH student-athlete, Goesling said.

Sometimes companies are interested in working with a specific athlete, and other times they could be interested in working with a specific team or have broader goals. LinkingCoogs serve as a mediator between the athletes and companies as they work for deals based on their NIL, Goesling said.

Prior to the launch, LinkingCoogs had already completed deals worth in excess of $300,000 as well as received grants and donations from local sources, Elrod said. LinkingCoogs is open for all Houston Cougars‘ athletes, Goesling said.

Companies like BB’s Cafe, Inaka Power, Hogue Landscaping, Sunrun, SuitMart, Fritz Kennel and The Den have already signed companies with Houston athletes, Goesling said. LinkingCoogs is currently working with numerous other companies as well, he added.

For Goesling, the best part of working with the Houston Cougars NIL collective is being able to tell student-athletes they have reached a deal with a company. There have been multiple times when some of the athletes have been brought to tears after reaching a deal, Goesling said.

“The biggest piece of this whole thing has been the education of the NIL and letting people know what you can do for these kids and how much it means to them,” Goesling said. “To be able to give back to the University of Houston, which like I said has done so much to me, it has been an absolute joy.”

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