Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford isn’t just a leader on the field and within the Nittany Lions football program. He is also a leader off the field as the sport of college football continues to evolve with more opportunities for student-athletes than ever before.
Clifford has engaged in conversations with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in an effort to help give players around the Big Ten an opportunity to engage in discussions regarding decisions being made by the Big Ten. Warren described the discussions in a memo as “the process of formalizing the Big Ten Student-Athlete Advisory Committee” as the landscape of the Big Ten and collegiate athletics continues to evolve.
It has been stressed that is organizational effort is not a union but a collaboration between the Big Ten and its student-athletes. Clifford did note in his own statement posted on his Twitter account he thought ideas recently presented by the College Football Players Association were “interesting ideas,” but Clifford distanced himself from representing any union effort in helping to create a dialogue with Warren and the Big Ten offices.
“I am grateful to be a part of a team, university and conference where our leadership is truly open to listening and learning from its students to further strengthen and safeguard our academic and competitive experiences, ” Clifford said in a released statement.
Clifford reportedly is interested in helping the Big Ten to create standardized medical care for student-athletes during and after their playing careers. And considering how much revenue the Big Ten continues to rake in through media rights deals, and how much is reportedly going to be coming in with a new rights deal that includes the expansion into California with USC and UCLA, it makes sense for the Big Ten to be able to fund such a collaborative effort in the future.
It should come as no surprise Clifford is being seen as the face of this effort. As the age of NIL was ushered in, Clifford started his own NIL group focused on educating his peers on how to wisely go about exploring NIL opportunities rather than getting caught making poor and ill-advised decisions for a quick buck. Clifford is also widely respected around the Big Ten, as evidenced by some of the postgame comments from Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh last season.
We’ll see if this comes up during Big Ten media days in the coming week.
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