Gopher Basketball Boosters Aiming to Raise $1 Million in NIL Money
The Minnesota Gophers basketball and football programs are at the biggest competitive disadvantage in school history.
While other universities and booster clubs have embraced and committed to Name, Image and Likeness loopholes — which allow the most talented collegiate athletes to receive hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, from entities that aren’t technically affiliated with a University — Gopher athletes receive next to nothing.
NIL hesitancy ending at the University of Minnesota
Part of the NIL hesitancy in the Twin Cities has to do with the men’s basketball cheating scandal that rocked campus back in the late-90’s, early-00’s. But tight booster pockets have proven to be a problem, as well.
But that could be changing. According Charley Walters (Pioneer Press), there’s a push from big money supporters of the men’s and women’s basketball programs, to raise $1 million by 2027. The individual donations will be $25,000 per donor, per year. The collection is expected to equal $250,000 total per year and will start immediately.
Pssst: A group of Gophers men’s and women’s basketball boosters are seeking $25,000 per member through Dec. 31 this year, with a goal of at least $250,000, to assist in a name, image and likeness (NIL) collective to promote the programs.
Another $25,000 per member will be sought toward a goal of $500,000 from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2024, and yet another $25,000 per member to raise at least $1 million between Jan. 1, 2025, through Dec. 31, 2027.Charley Walters – Pioneer Press
Welcome to the NIL thunderdome
The Minnesota Gophers have an NIL Collective called “Dinkytown Athletes” that raises small amounts of money for popular athletes who have already earned their due. Most of the funds raised come via small membership fees, t-shirt sales and player appearances. So far, the return on investment has been minimal.
What basketball boosters are doing, however, seems different and looks much closer to what other booster clubs and collectives at major universities are doing across the country. It marks the first real push to be competitive in the NIL era of college athletics and, hopefully, it’s just the first push of many.
History of a competitive disadvantage
The University of Minnesota has been at a competitive disadvantage in football and basketball since the 70’s, when southern schools started more widely accepting people of color into their athletic programs. Suddenly, it was much more difficult to convince the Bobby Bells and Carl Ellers of the world to head north after high school
The long winters make it difficult to get athletes from warmer climates to even consider a college career in Minnesota. And by the time local high schools started producing more NBA and NFL quality talent (late 2000’s), the hometown Gophers found it impossible to recruit against blue blood schools.
But if NIL money doesn’t start flowing in ASAP, the University of Minnesota will find it impossible to build competitive teams in football or basketball.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan