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Welcome something else to Colorado along with Coach Deion Sanders: NIL money

Welcome something else along with Deon Sanders: NIL money
Welcome something else along with Deion Sanders: NIL money 03:25

Nil may mean "zero" or "nonexistent," but that's hardly its meaning in college sports these days. Name, image and likeness -- also known as NIL money -- could be another result of the arrival of Deion Sanders as coach of the CU Buffaloes.


"NIL money, that's a real part of college football now," said former Colorado Buff and NFL player Tyler Polumbus. "I never thought that Colorado would be able to live in that world and compete in that world, but with Deion Sanders, it becomes a whole new land of opportunity."

The NCAA came up with the concept slowly over a period of years, under pressure from student athletes weary of playing for free while their universities were enriched by their athletic achievements. In 2021, NIL regulations went into effect after some states began passing their own laws.

"I'm not crazy about the NILs, but I understand the NILs," said incoming coach Deion Sanders at a weekend news conference. His own son is a beneficiary. With Jackson State's smashing success, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who is coming to CU, says his father has inked numerous deals, including Mercedes Benz and Gatorade. Since it is about fame, high profile players typically do far better.

"Not everybody's going to have the same worth. So the quarterback's probably going to be more valuable than the right tackles and the right guards," said Polumbus, who played offensive tackle. "And that's really the way that football works at the highest levels as well."


It means commoditizing their athletic talent and fame. The players are not paid to play for the teams. That is still not allowed.

"You can go sell yourself to the local car dealership. If you've got a Nike, or Under Armor (that) wants to take you on board, you can sell yourself," Polumbus added.

There are collectives that mean, in effect, stipends for multiple players. Some of the bigger university programs have players averaging more than $75,000 a year. It means they are doing things like sending out social media messages favoring a business.

There is of course the potential of distractions.

"I would rather our kids be focused on the NFL, not just the NIL," said Sanders.

"I do believe him that he doesn't want the kids to be out there worried about trying to make a bunch of money. But that's where the collectives really come in," said Polumbus.

The reality is, with more attention on CU football will likely come more of the NIL money and potential distractions. But all big-time teams are on a relatively even playing field.

"I hope that Deion Sanders and the Colorado football team will bring a great support system around these kids. Teach them how to manage money," said Polumbus.

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