Penn State football’s Clifford Bros. help amateur athletes navigate NIL world

Brothers Sean and Liam Clifford made for quite a pass-catch combination for Penn State football. 

Off the field, the Nittany Lions quarterback and wide receiver, respectively, have been making for just as potent a combo when it comes to aiding amateur athletes. 

Sean finalized the sale of Limitless NIL (name, image, likeness) to TEAM Group Holdings, Inc. Limitless NIL was founded by Sean and Liam in 2022. The company looks to help student-athletes develop brands and business relationships designed for NIL. Limitless began with seven athletes and now lists more than 50 athletes under agreements. 

 Limitless NIL, LLC, announced Monday that it has joined the newly formed TEAM Group Holdings, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation. TEAM’s branded house includes Limitless, Strategic Sports Marketing, and Sports Vault. 

Sean returned to the Nittany Lions for the 2022 season, his sixth year with the team. The Most Valuable Player of the 2023 Rose Bowl and PSU’s career passing leader said in a statement he returned to Penn State to play one more year and to work with Liam to help young athletes through Limitless NIL. 

“When I made the decision to come back to Penn State, I knew that I wanted to do something in a big way to affect college sports across all landscapes.” Sean said. “That is where Limitless NIL really came from. 

“When we first sat down to talk about our mission statement, breeding extreme ownership is indispensable to us because we see that it worked. I created a company with my brother, with a team, that had my back and still has my back to this day. And I have been so happy with the results.” 

Sean said the main point of Limitless NIL is to be “for the players by the players.” What the company seeks to do is give ownership to the players, he added, “so they can make sound decisions for themselves starting in high school.” 

Companies ranging in size from State College businesses to national brands to billion-dollar organizations have secured deals with Limitless athletes. As amateur athletes are able to build a foundation for current and future earnings at a younger age than before, Sean and his Limitless team work to aid amateur athletes as they navigate the new NIL landscape. 

TEAM President and CEO Pat Waters said before NIL was officially approved, his company planned to be a major player in NIL. 

After meeting with Sean and Liam Clifford last year, we knew our future had to include them,” said Waters. “They had multiple pieces of the puzzle already in place, including a dynamic group of entrepreneurs driving the business. I am thrilled with our newly consolidated NIL platform and eager to continue our rapid growth in 2023.” 

A wholly owned subsidiary of TEAM, Limitless continues to operate as a stand-alone brand. Its merger with TEAM will provide Limitless with the resources and tools to continue its growth. The merger enables Limitless to help athletes navigate the industry, make informed decisions, and achieve success. 

Peter Luukko, chairman of TEAM, said his company has successfully monetized professional athletes for nearly 20 years. 

“We are proud to match our values with the Limitless team,” said Luukko, “and strategically expand our reach in the NIL category.”

Here’s how to tackle high inflation

The inflation we’re seeing hasn’t been seen for decades. For many of you it is unprecedented. I believe it is critically important to concentrate on three things that can help you navigate inflation with the least possible damage to the business. You’re going to need a team including your best people in accounting, sales, purchasing, process improvement and human resources. They will have to share information like never before.   

Pricing Strategy – Nothing has a bigger impact on the bottom line than price. It is the longest lever you have in your tool kit. If you compare a price increase and a cost reduction of equal percentages, the price increase will always deliver a greater profit boost.  

You may not be able to pass every cost increase on to your customers. More on that in a minute. What you can do is your best possible job of market awareness. What are your competitors doing? Is the general pricing in the market rising and are you keeping pace?  

I’ve had clients who thought it was almost immoral to raise their prices. I’m certainly not suggesting price gouging, taking advantage of the inflationary environment. But if you don’t at least keep pace with the market and with a high proportion of your cost increases, you may find your profits disappearing. Price gouging doesn’t help your customers, but you going out of business doesn’t help them either. Find the right balance.  

Cost Control – Cost control is always important, but never so much as during a period of high inflation. You are facing potential increases in every cost that isn’t fixed by some kind of long-term contract.  

The first step in good cost control is good cost awareness. You’d be surprised how many small businesses have a very weak handle on the costs of their products and services. Cost data in ERP systems is often allowed to age to the point where the data is hardly useful. Make sure whatever system you use to track and report costs, whether a complex ERP system or a set of spreadsheets, reflects current reality. Task your accountants; make sure you have the right numbers.  

The next step is prioritizing the items you purchase, your products and services, and your processes for cost improvement. Pareto’s Law, the 80/20 rule is useful. 80 percent of your purchasing expense likely comes from something like 20 percent of the items you buy. 80 percent of your revenue may come from about 20 percent of your products or services, and 20 percent of your customers too. 80 percent of possible process cost improvements will come from about 20 percent of your processes, the ones most ripe for improvement.  

As quality guru Joseph Juran said, prioritize to focus on the important few, not the unimportant many. Identify the important few and get to work. Armed with good cost data and prioritization of your cost improvement efforts, you can begin to monitor and improve the cost of those most-important product/service lines, purchased items and internal processes.  

I have never worked with a business that couldn’t improve its costs, often significantly. It’s not that the people in the business aren’t capable of doing it. Often, it’s not a high priority when things are going well financially and there are plenty of other problems to solve.  

Sometimes it’s simply not seeing the forest for the trees. I’ve had many experiences of analyzing processes and having clients surprised to find the waste that could be eliminated. When we’re around something all the time we stop seeing the details.  

Make an action plan to examine every important product, service, process, and supplier. It’s essential.  

Wages and Employee Retention – Plan for wages and employee retention too. There’s no avoiding the pressure for wage increases with inflation approaching double digits. Don’t let events get too far ahead of you. Monitor wages in your markets. Factor wage increases into your pricing strategy and your goals for cost reduction in other areas.  

Don’t lose good people because you haven’t planned.  

Start today. Gather your team. Get help if you need it. Give your business its best shot at navigating inflation, surviving, and perhaps thriving.   

Richard Randall is founder and president of management-consulting firm New Level Advisors in Springettsbury Township, York County. Email him at [email protected] 


Customers Bank launches South-Central PA commercial banking team 

West Reading-based Customers Bank launched a new commercial banking team that will work with privately owned businesses with revenue between $5 million and $100 million throughout the Midstate. 

Working primarily from home and through in-person visits, Customers Bank’s new team will cover Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.  

The initiative is part of a greater expansion by the bank, which has seen it open new commercial banking offices in Orlando, Florida and Dallas, Texas and expanding its presence in the Midwest through its base in Chicago. 

The South-Central Pennsylvania commercial banking team offers expertise in the real estate, financial services and technology industries, according to a press release from Customers Bank. It will work with clients on capital financing, owner-occupied mortgage financing, treasury management solutions and cash management needs. 

“Our model serves businesses and their principals of all sizes and provides them with remarkable banking experiences,” said Robert Fischer, executive vice president and chief lending officer, PA/NJ market for Customers Bank. “We focus on the relationship between the banking team and the client to determine how we can provide them the best service, rather than letting the size and complexity of the business determine the level of support they receive.” 

Fischer will be responsible for directing the team. He is joined by Zachary Flynn, the bank’s new senior vice president, market executive and Stephen Goodrich, senior vice president, commercial lending. 

Goodrich joins the bank after 19 years of commercial banking experience in Lancaster, York and Harrisburg. 

The team plans to open an office in the region early next year. Customers Bank also owns a small space in downtown Lancaster, where some of the dealings through the team may occur, according to a Customers Bank spokesperson.