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SRU basketball players receive NIL money

Green Cabbage in Cranberry Twp. strikes deal wit Austin, Herster
On hand for the Green Cabbage NIL agreement with Slippery Rock University men’s basketball Thursday morning were, from left, SRU redshirt sophomore Ike Herster, Rock men’s basketball coach Ian Grady, SRU graduate and Green Cabbage founder and CEO Eric Cunningham, Butler County Chamber of Commerce president Jordan Grady and SRU graduate student Maceo Austin. John Enrietto/Butler Eagle

CRANBERRY TWP — Eric Cunningham knows all about the correlation between sports and business, along with the effectiveness of team.

The 1997 Slippery Rock University graduate and former Rock football player has parlayed that knowledge into an international corporation. He founded a Cranberry Township-based company known as Green Cabbage — an intelligence and technology firm serving other businesses — in 2019.

“There were four of us in the beginning ... we had no product, no meetings, no money ... and today I have a 50-person team I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Cunningham said. “We work together and support each other, just like an athletic team does. We have 1,200 clients across the globe.

“Sports and business are measured in results. If a sports team doesn’t win, you lose your position. If we don’t win, we don’t have cash flow.”

Now Cunningham and Green Cabbage are giving back to their beginnings. During a gathering Thursday morning, Slippery Rock University basketball players Maceo Austin and Ike Herster received $10,000 Name Image & Likeness deals through the company. A $10,000 donation was also made to SRU athletics.

Austin and Herster will assist in getting the Green Cabbage name out there through social media.

“This is a great day for these two young men, for SRU athletics and our entire university,” Rock men’s basketball coach Ian Grady said. “We’re excited about the whole thing and these two guys truly deserve this.”

This is believed to be one of the first major NIL deals for Division II athletes in the country, Cunningham pointed out.

“We want the word to get out there because maybe some other businesses in the area will follow suit and help some of these athletes,” he said. “Being a student-athlete in college is a full time job. There’s no doubt about that.

“Maceo Austin is like an extended member of my family. I’ve known him for a long time. Wherever Maceo is, Ike is right there with him. They’re inseparable. These guys were easy choices to represent what we’re about.”

Austin and Herster are both from Sharon and were basketball standouts at Kennedy Catholic High School. A graduate student at SRU working on business and marketing, Austin is a Duquesne University graduate. Herster, a redshirt sophomore at The Rock, is a transfer from Gannon and a criminal justice major.

Austin averaged 16.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season while Herster averaged 14.3 points and 3.0 rebounds. They were the top two scorers on the team.

“When I’m done playing college ball, I want to go overseas and play pro,” Herster said. “When I get back, I want to get into coaching and mentor kids. I want to help kids who need help, maybe work with juvenile delinquents.

“I’m grateful for what Green Cabbage is doing for us. I’m going to save that money for down the road.”

Austin said he’s “proud to be one of the first SRU athletes to be part of something like this. Hopefully, there will be more to follow. I’m going to try pro ball overseas, then serve as a mentor to kids like so many people mentored me.”

Cunningham said these NIL deals “are just the start” of his company assisting collegiate athletics, particularly Slippery Rock University.

“We have a great relationship with SRU,” he said. “We plan to do a few more of these in the future, including helping female student-athletes.”

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