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CONNECT. SUPPORT. INSPIRE.

Back in the summer of 2021, the rules changed. Student-athletes could finally monetize and profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

Now it’s time to change the game. This is the chance for Rhody fans to support their favorite student-athletes while receiving exclusive access and benefits. Rhody Excellence was created with a goal of supporting student-athletes at the University of Rhode Island by facilitating legal and compliant NIL opportunities as well as helping those athletes prepare for the future.

Join Us

Rhode to Excellence provides fans and supporters with access to their favorite student-athletes through contributions and subscriptions. Each membership level includes various exclusive benefits which allows the student-athletes to receive legal compensation for their NIL. Additionally, one-time donations to Rhode to Excellence will be dispersed to the student-athletes.

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CORPORATE SPONSORS

ADVISORY BOARD

Stone Freeman
Executive Director

Stone Freeman ’19 ’21 has become synonymous with Rhode Island Athletics over the last decade. Freeman’s extensive resume in college athletics includes experience in sports information, broadcasting, development, and corporate partnerships. Most recently he served as Manager of Business Development with Rhody Sports Properties, the Learfield corporate partnerships wing of Rhode Island Athletics. Freeman also serves as play-by-play voice for various URI Men’s Basketball & Football games on FloFootball.com and on the Varsity Network. Freeman received his B.A. in Journalism from Rhode Island in 2019 and his M.A. in Communication Studies in 2021.

Thomas M. Ryan

Thomas Ryan ’75 H’99 has played a foundational role in the success of the University of Rhode Island. His commitment to the University includes the namesake of the URI Basketball’s home, the Thomas M. Ryan Center, one of the best arenas and hardest place to play in college basketball. The former President and CEO of CVS and Director of Five Below who currently works as Operating Partner of Advent International and Director of PJT Partners. He served as Chair of the URI Foundation and Alumni Engagement Board of Directors, is currently a member of the URI Foundation and Alumni Engagement Campaign Committee, and the URI President’s Advisory Council.

David Martirano

David Martirano ’91 is the Chairman of the URI Board of Trustees Student Life and Athletics Committee. An avid basketball fan and supporter of the University, David is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Point Judith Capital (PJC). PJC, an early-stage Venture Capital Fund is investing out of its 5th fund. Prior to PJC, David co-founded Rex Capital Ventures, which invested internationally in early-stage companies. Prior to founding Rex, he worked at Cowen & Co. He currently sits on the Investment Committee for Lifespan. He was previously a member of the URI College of Business Advisory Council and was on the founding board of Year Up Providence. Mr. Martirano holds an MBA, from Columbia Business School and a B.S. in Business from the University of Rhode Island.

Michael D. Fascitelli

Michael D. Fascitelli ’78 H’08 is a current owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and a former URI basketball player. He is the Founder of MDF Capital LLC and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Imperial Companies. Mr. Fascitelli previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Vornado Realty Trust as well as President of Alexander’s Inc. He continues to serve as a Trustee of Vornado Realty Trust. Prior to joining Vornado, he was a Partner at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Currently, he is a Trustee of Invitation Homes, as well as Chairman of the Investment Committee and Board Member of Cadre, Board Member at Child Mind Institute, The Rockefeller University and Urban Land Institute. Mr. Fascitelli holds an MBA, with highest distinction, from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Rhode Island.

Kevin M. Lopes

Kevin Lopes ’05 is a former URI Men’s Track and Field athlete and is the vice chairman of the University of Rhode Island Foundation and Alumni Engagement (URIFAE). Kevin also served as the URI Student Body President from 2003 – 2005. He currently leads ESPN’s Business Development and Innovation teams, which includes identifying and evaluating third-party opportunities including advanced technology initiatives. Kevin has extensive ESPN experience having worked at the company for 15 years. During his first 10 years on the programming team, he was responsible for scheduling and operational oversight of 10K+ live digital events, digital collegiate acquisitions, and esports programming acquisitions and strategy. Prior to ESPN, Kevin worked at the Big East Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. He has a Bachelor’s in Communication from the University of Rhode Island.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS NIL?

NIL stands for “Name, Image, and Likeness” specifically referring to the use of an athlete’s NIL through marketing and promotional endeavors. Student-athletes at NCAA institutions could begin monetizing their NIL beginning on July 1, 2021.

WHAT ARE THE NCAA RULES REGARDING NIL?

Generally speaking, all NIL activities are permitted, as they follow these four guidelines:

  • There must be quid pro quo attached to an NIL deal essentially requiring a student-athlete to do an activity in order to receive compensation.
  • That activity cannot be tied to athletic performance such as statistical achievements, wins, or awards.
  • That activity cannot be contingent upon the student-athlete committing to the university that the collective supports or tied to enrollment.
  • Institutions do not provide compensation in exchange for the use of a student-athlete’s NIL.

NCAA rules also require student-athletes to follow their state law or institutional policy if there is no existing state law governing NIL activities.

WHAT IS AN NIL ACTIVITY?

An NIL activity involves the use of a student-athlete’s name, image, or likeness for promotional purposes by a third-party not associated with the NCAA or an NCAA institution such as:

  • Social media influencing and other promotions
  • Personal appearances at businesses, conferences, camps, parties
    TV ads, radio ads, print ads
  • Endorsements of a third-party
  • Student-athlete-run camps and private lessons
  • Autographs
  • Sale of student-athlete owned apparel and personal items
  • Student-athlete run businesses
WHO DOES RHODE TO EXCELLENCE WORK WITH?

Rhode to Excellence works with student-athletes from the University of Rhode Island.

HOW WILL PAYMENTS BE MADE TO THE PLAYERS?

Rhode to Excellence utilizes Opendorse, the leading operating software provider for collectives. This software allows student-athletes the ability to provide compliance reporting to the University of Rhode Island which can be accessed by the athletic department via a subscription and to the NCAA (if requested) as well as serves as the way to distribute funds to student-athletes after they have completed their NIL obligation.

DOES RHODE ISLAND HAVE AN NIL STATE LAW?

Legislation has been proposed – House Bill 6673. One of several northeastern states without an NIL law, some Rhode Island legislators seek to change that with the introduction of House Bill 6673. Effective in the coming year, the bill covers many of the common provisions, without explicit prohibition on school marks use or vice industry endorsements.

DOES URI HAVE AN NIL POLICY?

Yes – the University of Rhode Island has a Name, Image and Likeness policy. More NIL information can be found on the Rhody Athletics site.

IS RHODE TO EXCELLENCE AN ENTITY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND?

No – Rhode to Excellence is a third-party entity that is unaffiliated with the University of Rhode Island.

HOW WILL RHODY EXCELLENCE BE GOVERNED AND ADMINISTERED?
  • Rhode to Excellence has an Advisory Board whose purpose will be to organize the entity, raise funds, and review and ratify annual audits.
  • The Advisory Board has engaged FirstTeam Sports Consulting to administer the Opendorse account, manage the accounting for the fund, support the annual audit, as well as manage public relations.
  • The Advisory Board will not be paid by Rhode to Excellence for ANY purpose in furtherance of the NIL activities.
ARE CONTRACTS WITH STUDENT-ATHLETES EXCLUSIVE?

No – our agreements are intentionally non-exclusive to enable student-athletes to continue to build their brand with opportunities outside of Rhode to Excellence.

WHAT PERCENTAGE OF CONTRIBUTIONS GO TO THE ATHLETES?

We strive to keep our operating costs as low as possible so that at least 80% of the contributions (if not more) can be paid out to student-athletes. The remaining funds will be used to cover fundraising expenses, deal facilitation, and various administrative expenses.

DOES RHODY EXCELLENCE WORK WITH RECRUITS OR PROSPECTIVE STUDENT-ATHLETES?

No – In compliance with NIL regulations, Rhode to Excellence will not meet with, contact, offer a deal, etc. to any prospective student-athlete. Until a student-athlete has signed their NLI and/or the institution has received a deposit of financial aid, they will not be contacted by Rhode to Excellence.

For further questions, please contact us.