Thursday, July 1, 2021

It’s kind of a long time coming’: Kansas basketball players in favor of new NIL policy

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) and Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) help Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) off the floor after Braun took a charge during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) and Kansas guard Dajuan Harris (3) help Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) off the floor after Braun took a charge during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Topeka — Now that college athletes are allowed to make money from their names, images and likenesses, some University of Kansas men’s basketball players are already hoping to take advantage of the opportunity.

The NCAA’s interim NIL policy, which took effect Thursday, lets players make money through a variety of avenues, such as social media posts, autograph sales or advertisements. On the first day, several KU players — freshman Bobby Pettiford, sophomore Joseph Yesufu, junior Christian Braun and super-senior Mitch Lightfoot — had already posted on social media that they were interested in NIL opportunities.

“It is a monumental day in the world of college athletics,” Lightfoot tweeted. “This is not only an opportunity for me and my teammates, but an opportunity for us to connect the Lawrence community and mutually benefit.”

Lightfoot then became the first player to land an opportunity. He tweeted from his personal account on Thursday night about his partnership with a junk removal service in Kansas City.

"After being voted as the player with the messiest locker, I figured it was only fitting to have my first partnership be with 1-800-GOT-JUNK?," Lightfoot wrote in the tweet that included a photo of him wearing a company polo. "Can’t wait to help bring their multitude of services to the entire Kansas City area."

It is only a matter of time before other players follow suit based on the initial reaction. Pettiford told reporters on Thursday that a few hours after his social media posts he had already gotten responses from “a few people.”

“It’s definitely cool,” Pettiford said Thursday, while working at Brett Ballard’s Washburn University basketball camp. “You get to brand yourself. You get to make money off yourself, so it’s great.”

• • •

Another player working at the Washburn camp, super-senior Jalen Coleman-Lands, has learned plenty about branding and messaging during his college career. The transfer guard, who most recently played for Iowa State, earned a marketing degree at one of his previous schools, DePaul. He also has founded a nonprofit organization, FigurePrint, to help young people overcome communication barriers in their homes.

“It’s kind of a long time coming,” Coleman-Lands said of the NIL changes. “But, I mean, I think it’s something that could be really good for the players and just the NCAA. It’s good for basketball.

“You can allow people to fully brand themselves,” he added. “Players bring a lot to a team, not only on the court, but off the court. Just being able to, as a holistic person, brand yourself.”

As for his own brand, Coleman-Lands said he needs to do a little more research. He wants to figure out the rules and restrictions that apply to NIL opportunities before he jumps in.

• • •

Not all players are champing at the bit to earn money from NIL opportunities. Some, like Coleman-Lands, want to make sure they know how everything works first. And others, like super-senior Cam Martin, simply have other priorities.

This will be the lone season in Lawrence for Martin, previously a two-time NCAA Division II All-American at Missouri Southern. Right now he wants to use his limited time in college hoops to just focus on his performance on the court.

“I’m a little different than the other guys, because some of the freshmen have like four years of this,” Martin said. “I got 10 months at KU. My main priority is just winning games and getting better.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s opposed to the NIL policy, or even that he wouldn’t consider using it himself.

“If I have some free time where I can do some stuff with this, I’m going to do it, of course,” he said. “But that’s not really a main priority for me right now.”

Martin said just having the options available would make a difference for players and change the landscape of college sports for the better.

“I think it’s really good,” he said. “It’s going to definitely change college basketball, and every sport for that matter, but I think it’s long overdue. I think it’s a good thing and (will) help the players out for sure.”

“This is something that can definitely set players up for the rest of their life,” he added.

None by Mitch Lightfoot

None by Christian Braun

None by Bobby Pettiford Jr

None by Mitch Lightfoot


Brian Skelly 1 year, 2 months ago

I think for most kids, this isn't going to be life changing $$$ for them. That said though, at least now they can make something of them being themselves. I'd think all these KU guys can make something on the side with their personalities and social media.

Yeah, some small portion of kids will really cash in.    But that's not going to be most of them.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 2 months ago

Are you kidding me. There are only about 400-500 4 and 5 Star every year the monetary competition to sign these players is only going to grow.

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 2 months ago

I assume you're talking about Football because in Basketball, you're off by a factor of 5 or so.

Regardless, this rule isn't necessarily intended to set up these kids for life (even NBA money often doesn't set up these kids for life). It's more about giving them an opportunity to do what other students are allowed to do and that's make some money. They have no time for a job since they spend 40+ hours a week on Basketball stuff (and you're supposed to spend 40+ hours a week on school/homework). There is a D1 football player that is now able to book paid gigs for his budding singing career for instance. These kids can now take advantage of their "fame" on social media just like other social media influencer college kids. If they can get paid a few hundred here, a few thousand there, then good for them. For the stars who are able to lock down a large national deal like the Cavinder twins signing with Boost Mobile due to their large social media following or like Olivia Dunne because she's a very attractive gymnast with a huge online presence (who's projected to make 7 figures from NIL deals), or because they are projected to win the Heisman or be the #1 pick or whatever, good for them as well. Nobody in this country should be prevented from being paid what they are worth (especially if it means the money lines the pockets of the corrupt NCAA instead).

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 2 months ago

Seems the money is in being on social media ..........and athletics , ask the Cavinder twins.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 2 months ago

Shannon, You are correct, there are only 13 players on the basketball teams. But there are a massive 353 Division 1 Teams, where there are only 130 Division 1 Football teams.

This will not end up being just a few hundred dollars. There is a very small number of recruits that have exceptional basketball skills available to hire each year. And, there are over 350 Division 1 schools competing to recruit them. I'm guessing, in 5 years, the top 20 basketball programs, the top 10 players for each time will each make more than $40k/year above and beyond current scholarship benefits.

These kids are now Professional, not dependents, scholarship money, free tuition, room, board, car, clothing, laundry, etc....should now be shown as income and needs to be taxed. They are no longer students first. They are being paid to play sports at the University, and all NIL money will be earned because they are players at the University.

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 2 months ago

That's great but you said 400-500 4 and 5 star. There are 100 or so of those in each recruiting class, not 500. Ultimately it doesn't matter though because they don't have to be a 4 or 5 star recruit to get paid for their services.

I didn't say it would only be a few hundred dollars. I was referring to a single deal with a single company that may only be a few hundred, or a few thousand, or way more (like Olivia Dunne who's projected to make 7 figures).

Brian Wilson 1 year, 2 months ago

Thats what I was saying. About 100 5 star and about 400 4 star. Divide that by 130 schools. Point is those 500 will be getting first largest offers and there will be a lot of schools, alumni, and sports companies competing to step up and pay if they want their player. Inflation is the in thing you know!

Shannon Gustafson 1 year, 2 months ago

What you're saying is not true (which I've been saying this whole time but you're sticking with it). There are typically only about 25-30 5 stars and about 75 4 stars, which gets you to the top 100 or so. Then it drops off to 3 star, 2 star, etc. So there are about 100 5 and 4 star recruits (combined) each year.

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 2 months ago

A few thoughts

Players names were never allowed on college jerseys sold to fans ....will they do that now knowing that the player will profit

Although the focus is on football and basketball players ......athletes from other sports are also profiting

Olivia Dunne and the Cavinder twins social media presence will overshadow their athletic abilities

If a basketball player can make more off his NIL than he would on a G-league contract would they go to school ......the average g league contract is 35,000 dollars

To think an athlete cant make money off of themselves but a school can is crazy Unfortunately the drummer Donovan Miller cant get an endorsement deal with Ludwig drums because hes graduated.

Brian I wouldnt say they are professionals . I think they arent getting paid to play a sport ,they are making money off of their sport and who they are and their marketability

Regardless of all that is going on it still revolves around the all mighty dollar, its just now athletes are getting a piece of the pie

Brian Wilson 1 year, 2 months ago

So players that make $35k in the D league with no endorsements are professional athletes but a college player making $100K in endorsements, being paid $40000 in tuition, free room and board plus not because of academics or primary purpose to study, but to come play basketball, and you want to call them amatuer.

Adam Bengtson 1 year, 2 months ago

I see nothing going wrong with this.....

Rodney Crain 1 year, 2 months ago

A fool and his money are soon parted - Thomas Tusser

Mallory Briggans 1 year, 2 months ago

Brian a G-league player is a professional ,They get payed to play basketball .Kids arent recruited for academics because a school doesnt generate revenue on Einsteins .Kids are recruited to play sports that generate revenue in return ,yes they are GIVEN the opportunity the get an education with free room and board . .I dont know tax law but if they are PAID 40000 in tuition do they file a tax return. So if the good players get endorsements youre saying they are professionals , but if the bench warmers dont get endorsements they are not professionals .

Robert Brock 1 year, 2 months ago

Let these jocks earn all the money they want as long as they pay for their own tuition, books, room and board, food, and transportation.

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