The best player in college basketball, playing for a school known as a ‘“one-and-done” tune up for the pros, is staying on campus in Kentucky for another year — and a $2 million payout.
Kansas State University lost a top hoop star earlier this year to the University of Miami, where he’ll score $800,000 in endorsements.
And after a former standout high school player from Lee’s Summit left Creighton University, he cashed in on five figures in endorsements as a member of the University of Texas basketball team.
Big money has long defined college sports. For schools. For coaches. For television networks. And for the NCAA.
Now, a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA can no longer bar college athletes from cashing in on their notoriety, the amateur façade is crumbling.
Meanwhile, players, schools and lawyers navigate an uncertain landscape for endorsement deals that give players more than the tuition, room and board they’ve been entitled to for generations.
Unlike that one-size-fits-all model of old, these newly legitimate deals tend to reward players in men’s sports more than women, stars more than role players, football players more than volleyball or cross country stars.
The new dynamic allows players to make money from their name, image and likeness, or NIL. Those deals are widely seen as less about the value they offer to businesses, and more as a giant loophole for paying players.
Now the NCAA, accustomed to cracking down on payments to players, plays an uncertain role in a new age of college sports.
“The NCAA just doesn’t have a lot of governing authority at this point, at least as it relates to the revenue-generating sports,” said Curry Sexton, a former K-State football player working as an attorney for Siegfried Bingham in Kansas City.
Sexton is helping form collectives for NIL deals. Some, mostly high-profile, college athletes can draw their own endorsement deals. Collectives draw in multiple, broader endorsement deals and then divvy up money to players at a school. They work independently of colleges — shielding the schools from the still-forbidden practice of explicitly tying recruitment to payouts.
Sexton helped launch a K-State collective last month called The Wildcats’ Den (“connecting business & the community with student-athletes”).
“If a business man, woman or entity or any other individual comes to the collective and says, ‘Hey, we want to do a deal with X player and run it through you guys,’ then the collective serves as the broker,” he said.
Boosters can also give money and leave it up to a collective to determine how the money …….