One significant goal for Ohio State sports under new athletic director Ross Bjork is the continuation of the university’s National Invitational League program.

Specifically, what it can become with Ohio State’s support.

“He worked with the Texas legislature and the NCAA in the changing NIL landscape,” Ohio State president Ted Carter said Wednesday during Bjork’s introduction. “He oversaw the largest fundraising efforts in the history of Texas A&M athletics.”

Bjork, who joined Texas A&M in 2019, helped lead up a football program that was known as one of the more aggressive NIL programs in the nation.

“No one really knows what reality really is in the NIL space,” Bjork said. “Unless they’re on your campus and they’re turning in the contracts to your compliance office, which is the healthy part of any NIL program. That’s reality. We don’t really know what’s happening across the country, and that’s one of the challenges that we have here.”

That success in the NIL space, though, didn’t translate to success on the field.

Bjork inherited football coach Jimbo Fisher, and in his tenure at Texas A&M, oversaw a football program that went a combined 37-23. Over the last two seasons, however, the Aggies went 5-7 and 7-6, which led to Fisher’s dismissal and a staggering $75-plus million buyout, the largest in college football history.

With the Buckeyes, and a significant financial backing, the hope is that the floor of Ohio State football can elevate the program to national championships.

“Today’s leaders and today’s coaches, we have to get the culture right first,” Bjork said. “That’s going to still matter. Team culture and team chemistry. And there has to be a structure around NIL. The players know who is the most valuable player. The players know who is going to make the most money because of who they are. If there’s structure within your organization, if there’s constant communication about value, if the coach is building culture, and there’s a lot of communication, people shouldn’t have to hide around their locker saying, ‘What’s this person getting or that person getting?’”

While there are certainly obvious differences between Texas A&M and Ohio State, and the Big Ten and SEC, keeping competitive in an NIL landscape is now a requirement in today’s college football world to compete for championships. Bjork’s role as a fundraiser will be big in those efforts.

It’s unclear of the specifics for what Ohio State will, and can, do in the NIL space with Bjork at the helm, but what is clear is that he’ll be aggressive in trying to fundraise to get things done.

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“NIL I’d say we’re still in the early stages of it,” Carter said. “We’re still learning a lot about it. There’s probably going to be more regulations put around that. That will tie eventually into whatever shared revenue models that will go into the future. There’s no doubt he’ll be able to raise money for capital type of events.”

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