Oxford brewery helps ‘change’ Ole Miss NIL opportunities

Published 10:51 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

By Ian Sparks and Cody Farris

UM journalism students


NIL – short for the NCAA’s Name, Image, and Likeness policy — has transformed the landscape of college athletics, including at Ole Miss.

Ole Miss’s NIL entity, The Grove Collective, launched in early 2022 and has signed notable student-athletes, such as Jaxson Dart, Tre Harris, Ethan Groff, Jaemyn Brakefield and hundreds more, according to 247Sports

Led by former Ole Miss athlete Walker Jones, the Grove Collective uses a subscription-based model that allows its members to donate in support of student-athletes, though one-time donations are possible, too. The Grove Collective also has a relationship with Oxford that many similar organizations may not have with their towns. 

Circle and Square Brewing Company, a local microbrewery located just off campus, has found its own way to contribute to the cause. Co-owner Rick Hollander, who also teaches at Ole Miss, has implemented a system that gives customers the option to round-up their tabs to support the Grove Collective’s fund. 

“So when we started the brewery back in August, we wanted to have an affiliation with the university as much as we could being right on campus,” Hollander stated. 

Hollander also noted that Oby’s in Oxford has a similar system in place.

“It was kind of a no-brainer to just implement it, do what we said we’re going to do and help the university as much as we can,” he said.

Ole Miss track and field athlete Loral Winn is not a signed athlete with the Grove Collective and has been skeptical of NIL as a whole. However, after watching what the Grove Collective has accomplished, she is encouraged. 

“You have positives and negatives of NIL in athletics,” Winn said. “But I have seen the Grove Collective be very helpful for a lot of our athletes that are signed and for athletics as a whole.”

Winn appreciates that the collective supports Ole Miss players who may not have the name recognition that some others do.

“They have raised a lot of money for athletes that maybe aren’t on scholarship or that send money back to their families.”