LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Siena men’s basketball rising sophomore Michael Eley signed with Saints March On, the exclusive NIL collective for Siena athletes, on Wednesday. The new era of college sports, with NIL and the transfer portal, can be very confusing. So what is Saints March On, and what purpose does it serve in this new era? Let’s break it down.

College athletes now have the ability to monetize their name image and likeness. In the state of New York, schools are currently not allowed to make payments to athletes directly. Those NIL payments have to come through a third party. For Siena, that’s where Saints March On comes in, founded by Frank and Sheila Ambrose, and Matt Moberg. “We take donations from people and we pool those resources,” says Frank Ambrose. “Then we make arrangements with athletes to do things like make public appearances, do charity work and build and expand their brand.”

The transfer portal has provided new opportunities for schools, but it also has provided big challenges. Any player can leave after a given season. That’s something Saints March On has tried to navigate. “We try to engage with them immediately after the season and talk about the things that they want to do,” says Frank Ambrose. “What are their interests? What would make them excited to stay here at Siena College? What businesses would they like to talk to? And we would form a particular deal specific to that athlete and offer them a particular sum of money for what they are going to do for the collective, and have a negotiation.”

These deals don’t lock in athletes for a particular set of time. There are protections for both the collective and the player, allowing the player to still leave the school if they so choose. Players can also still make their own deals with businesses outside of the collective.

Saints March On has also reached deals with two local products: Clifton Park native Mason Courtney and Niskayuna native Brendan Coyle. On the flipside, guards Javian McCollum and Jared Billups have entered the transfer portal.