Spyre Sports Group is a sports marketing agency that was founded in 2020 by Hunter Baddour and James Clawson. The agency powers The Volunteer Club, an ambitious Tennessee-focused NIL collective.
Baddour and Clawson are both Tennessee graduates who saw the potential that a Knoxville-based NIL collective could have. “From the beginning, we saw it as a really good opportunity for Tennessee,” said Clawson. “We thought Tennessee had a good chance to dominate this space if we could educate people on NIL.”
Clawson pointed to several factors that make Knoxville a prime location for NIL activity. For one, Knoxville is one of the largest cities in the SEC and sports a passionate fanbase. Additionally, the lack of in-state competition in the NIL space was appealing. “We were motivated because we want Tennessee to be good again,” said Clawson.
The Volunteer Club offers a monthly membership to those who wish to support Tennessee athletics. Currently, the collective has 2,315 active memberships, with members paying anywhere from $5 to $500 monthly. The collective’s reach extends far beyond Knoxville at this point- Clawson pointed out that “over 30%,” of members are from outside the state of Tennessee.
To date, the collective has distributed more than $4.5 million to Tennessee student-athletes. The Vol Club notably inked RB Jaylen Wright to a NIL deal after the 2022 season, ensuring that Wright would return to Knoxville for one more season.
When NIL laws were first discussed, there was a segment of the population who worried that the college game would become too commercialized or less pure. However, in Clawson’s experience, the exact opposite has been the case.
“I was at the Alabama game this year (in Knoxville), and when the kick went in and Tennessee beat Alabama for the first time in 15 years, there was nobody that cared if Hendon Hooker and Cedric Tillman were making money,” explained Clawson. Clawson is hoping to show fans that with NIL, their favorite players can stick around longer and be fairly compensated in the meantime.
The Volunteer Club has made headlines mostly due to football deals, but Clawson stresses that the collective is for all Tennessee sports. “In ’22, we worked with 11 different sports and 200 total athletes,” said Clawson. “We are not just focused on football, basketball, and baseball.” Clawson also made note of the Lady Vols-specific NIL collective, the Lady Vol Boost Her Club. “We have a great relationship with them. Very few schools have a collective that’s focused on helping lady athletes. I think that speaks to the legacy that Pat Summitt created,” said Clawson.
Tennessee is one of the premier brands in college sports. It is only fitting that the brand is buoyed by a strong NIL scene. Clawson says the collective is planning events all across Tennessee to help get more fans involved. Be sure to check out the official website of the collective for more information.