A change could be coming for how BYU pays athletes, and its official NIL collective

The Royal Blue Collective leaders say they are in meetings about the future of the organization, and say even if it is brought in-house they will not be dissolved.

BYU athletic department officials are having conversations about possibly moving the school’s primary name, image and likeness collective in-house, multiple sources told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Royal Blue Collective, BYU’s officially endorsed collective, has been operating outside the school’s purview since the inception of NIL. But with the landmark House vs. NCAA settlement looming — which would allow schools to pay athletes directly — there have been many meetings about what it would look like to bring NIL in-house.

“We’ve been on calls as recently as yesterday” with BYU administrators, said Mark Comer, a leader of the RBC. “There’s been a handful of our key leadership in meetings, and we’ll be working through that structure.”

Right now, many athletic departments across the country are working on similar plans to bring collectives in-house — or at least change their roles. Until now, the collectives were designed to pay players when the athletic department could not do so directly.

“As the college athletics landscape continues to shift, we are committed to adapting and evolving in ways that best help our student-athletes,” a BYU spokesperson said in a statement.

Now that the House settlement is nearing finalization, the rules around NIL are certain to change. Instead, schools will be able to share a percentage of the revenue — effectively creating a $22 million salary cap — directly with the athletes and pay them out of their own pockets. It could change the role for collectives, and now some schools are looking to bring those donation arms in-house.

At BYU, Comer and fellow collective board member Lon Henderson said they’re meeting with BYU officials to detail what that would mean for the collective moving forward.

For example, does the money the collective has already raised go right into the athletic department?

“We just don’t know yet,” Comer said. “Now, maybe within a few weeks, we will know. Because it is moving so, so fast right now.”

But Comer believes that even if Royal Blue is brought in-house, the collective will not be dissolved. It would just change its duties.

Comer and Henderson said that even when BYU is paying athletes directly, there will still be some players who need more money or a higher salary to stay at the school. And that is where, as of right now, the collective could come in. It creates a challenge, they said, because they do not know exactly how much money they will need to raise each year.

The school is, “constrained by the profitability of the various universities and the athletic department,” he said. “So there’ll always be a delta between that amount you need to go out and recruit, [and what you can pay]. So because there is that delta, I think it’s a natural conclusion of how is that delta fulfilled? And we think that’s probably a place for NIL to put together the right solution for that.”

Comer and Henderson said there have been some discussions about Royal Blue members working directly for BYU, part of the Cougars’ payroll.

Before, the leaders of the Royal Blue worked for free and, technically, on their own.

“It has been brought up, just the logistics of how that works,” Comer said.

Both emphasized that nothing has been finalized yet. Some donors, Comer said, would prefer the collective to remain largely separate and be an outside voice from the university itself. BYU is looking at “best practices” that other universities follow as they decide the future of the collective and its role.

“If there’s a best practice that does have tremendous alignment, it may be in-house, and gets the goals of the collective and BYU, I think [BYU] would look at that favorably,” he said.