Rick George was part of the group charged with the unenviable task of analyzing pending state laws to potentially craft NCAA legislation that might create a uniform set of rules and restrictions to name, image and likeness ventures across the college athletics.
Through no fault of that group, the NCAA’s Working Group on State and Federal Legislation, NIL opportunities finally arrived for NCAA athletes at the beginning of the month without a blanket policy to govern the new era. Regardless, NIL opportunities became the law of the land on July 1 and, as has been George’s stance as NIL advocacy gained greater traction over the past few years, CU’s athletic director expressed excitement over NIL matters on Thursday during George’s first media session since the NIL era began.
“I’m excited for our student-athletes. I’m excited for student-athletes around the country to be able to monetize their name, image and likeness just like the students on our campus,” George said. “I think it’s a natural progression, as I’ve said it before, that I think we need to do. There’s a number of things that we’re doing to provide for our student-athletes, and I think the name, image and likeness is a natural step in that progress and we’ll continue to look for ways that we can make the experience for student-athletes better at CU.
“I’m really happy this day has come and I’m happy for our student-athletes that want to participate moving forward. I still think it’s too early to tell what kind of impact it’s going to have on our student-athletes, and what relationships and partnerships will look like. But I’m happy for our student-athletes and I think it’s going to be great for them.”
CU attempted to get ahead of the NIL educational curve last year when it formed the “Buffs With a Brand” program. Partnering with Jeremy Darlow, an experienced athletics consultant with Brands Win Championships, the Buffs With a Brand program has spent the past year helping educate the Buffs on the realities of future NIL legislation and opportunities, while also addressing issues such as entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
That NIL future finally has arrived, yet that education will continue. George on Thursday said the athletics department already has begun the process of meeting with each team to explain what is allowed under Colorado law, what isn’t allowed, and what opportunities might be available locally in Boulder or through social media ventures.
On July 1, CU wide receiver Brenden Rice announced a partnership with the fan connection company Cameo, and several Buffs athletes have secured sponsorship deals with Barstool Sports. On Thursday, Nate Landman added his name to that list, with the Denver sports media and entertainment company DNVR announcing an agreement with the CU linebacker. More Buffs are certain to explore new financial opportunities as the 2021-22 athletics calendar gets rolling.
“As all of our student-athletes come back, and they come back at different times, we’ll meet with all of them just to educate them,” George said. “But also to inform them of what the opportunities are. That’s why I think it was real important for our Buffs With a Brand, for a year they learned about how to brand themselves. Having partnerships with Jeremy Darlow and our leadership team on campus I think was really helpful for those student-athletes who participated in that.”