Spyre Sports management saw an opportunity in the name, image and likeness landscape to focus on enriching the Knoxville community.

So they created Volunteer Legacy, a non-profit organization under NIL.

“We can use this for good,” said Brandon Spurlock, vice president of fundraising and engagement at Volunteer Legacy.

Volunteer Legacy launched Tuesday with a mission to provide opportunities for young people to engage with Tennessee athletes to positively affect their lives and develop skills, from leadership to creativity. It will serve as a link between UT athletes and charitable programs, using NIL to connect the community in ways that go beyond the most high-profile NIL agreements.

“Nobody did that,” said Tennessee wide receiver and Volunteer Legacy board member Grant Frerking. “All of these deals were about the athletes and the dollar amount. The athlete can get a lot more out of a relationship with a kid they fostered during their college years.

Volunteer Legacy’s vision is to create stable and lasting relationships and partnerships between UT athletes and community organizations.

Spurlock mentioned visits to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital or visits to after-school programs through the Emerald Youth Foundation as early building blocks for partnerships. These opportunities will be offered free of charge to children or families. He also noted that athletes can use social media to build an audience and increase the visibility of good causes and charities within the community.

“We’re trying to take the rules that were forced upon us and use them for good to make an impact,” Spurlock said. “We’re trying to increase support and that’s a way for us to do that while we’re looking for the greater good.”

The launch process for Volunteer Legacy began over six months ago. It started with conversations with UT athletics supporters who expressed a desire to financially support this type of platform. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible.

“We will appeal to a whole different group of individuals who may or may not have strong feelings towards NIL, but they have a strong feeling towards community service work and doing things in Knoxville and around the state,” said Spurlock.

Frerking, who has been involved in NIL education from the beginning, welcomed the opportunities for partnerships between the more than 500 UT athletes and organizations within Knoxville. Volunteer Legacy hopes to show a different narrative around NIL, beyond revenue and into community impact.

“It helps to help Tennessee athletes have the best opportunities because they’re here in Knoxville and on campus,” Spurlock said.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you like Mike’s cover, consider a digital subscription which will allow you to access all of this.