Gophers Paying Cole Kramer a Rumored $30K in NIL to Stay for Bowl Game

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Minnesota
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Gophers are one of the only 5-7 college football programs in the country playing in a bowl game this winter, thanks to an outstanding academic record.

But when their starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis and 3rd-string QB Drew Viotto both entered the transfer portal at the end of the season, Minnesota’s only remaining option to start the Quick Lane Bowl was redshirt senior, Cole Kramer.

Related: Get to Know Cole Kramer, Minnesota’s Quick Lane Bowl QB1

Minnesota Gophers Paying Cole Kramer NIL Funds to QB the Quick Lane Bowl

Still, PJ Fleck had a problem. Kramer wasn’t planning to stick around until the end of December, either. He had a new house ready for him in Arizona, a fiance ready to get married and a big boy life to start. So, Fleck did what any QB desperate college football coach would do in the year 2023.

He offered Cole some NIL money, possibly as much as $30,000, to stick around Dinkytown for one more month and quarterback Minnesota vs the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field (Detroit, MI) the day after Christmas.

This news was first reported by an anonymous poster on the (247Sports) message boards with the username ‘EdenPrairieGopher‘. Here’s part of his post:

Just heard from an A+ source that Cole Kramer was given $30,000.00 to play in the bowl game from our NIL Fund. He was set to leave but thought this would be a great way to pay for his February wedding.

EdenPrairieGopher – paid membership message boards

Related: Why Did Athan Kaliakmanis Enter the Transfer Portal?

The anonymous tipster went on to complain about how terribly PJ Fleck and the owners of Dinkytown Athletes are handling the NIL money that he and other well-off Gopher football fans are contributing to the cause. I’ll get to that part of the conversation momentarily.

Downvote or call me a troll based on my opinion or that this was my first post, doesn’t matter to me one bit. I’ll set the record straight and be done. I’m a U of M grad ’92, I’ve been fortunate enough to make a good living and give back in ways that get me a great parking spot for all home games and have been at very intimate gatherings with both PJ and JK.

EdenPrairieGopher – message boards

Anonymous report confirmed by Gopher insider

First, it’s important to credential this rumor because EdenPrairieGopher, no matter how legit he sounds, isn’t a reliable insider who we should all take at their message board word. The same is not true for Gopher football insider, Ryan Burns.

Burns is the lead U of M football recruiting analyst and beat writer for 247Sports and he’s been a go-to guy in town for anything Gopher football related for a decade. Oh, and his cousin and podcasting partner is Derek Burns, who co-founded and co-operates Minnesota’s NIL collective, Dinkytown Athletes.

Burnsie confirms in one of his replies to EdenPrairieGopher that Minnesota is indeed paying Cole Kramer out of their NIL fund to stick around for the upcoming bowl game. Ryan doesn’t completely shut down the amount the amount EPG reported ($30K) either, though he says,“my numbers are different from yours”.

“They did allocate some funds to Kramer, that’s true. I’d say that my numbers are different from yours on what Cole got, but I could care less about that. That’s not important.”

Ryan Burns –

PJ Fleck flush with NIL cash???

Now that we know EPG’s report — that Kramer is being paid from the Gophers’ NIL fund to stick around for the bowl game — is true, let’s talk about the amount. Maybe Kramer isn’t making quite $30,000… or it’s possible the numbers can be fudged around somehow, making the amount look a bit more or less, depending on how you view it.

Related: PJ Fleck, Gophers Have Turned in Multiple Rival Schools for Tampering

No matter, it’s clear Cole is making $10’s of thousands for sticking around town an extra month. If the amount were smaller and more insignificant… say $3,000, this would be interesting, but less of a story.

But it’s not. So, obvious questions and assumptions arise: if the Minnesota Gophers can pay Cole Kramer ~$30K to play in an exhibition game… then their NIL fund is either a) in better shape than we thought it was or b) EdenPrairieGopher is rightfully upset about where this program is spending the limited NIL funds it does have access to.

I’m hoping it’s the former, not the latter. If Fleck can throw $30K at Cole Kramer just to stay for the bowl game, and not hurt what they are trying to do for 2024, then we are in a better NIL position than I assumed. I’d feel pretty good about where the Gopher football program is heading in the age of NIL, if that’s the case.

Does Minnesota have a lot more NIL than they did a year ago? Yes, and you/other fans should be commended for that. Does Minnesota have a lot of NIL compared to, for example, Iowa or Nebraska? They do not.

Ryan Burns –

I can’t imagine a world where Fleck would give up say… 1/4 or 1/5 of next year’s NIL fund so Cole Kramer will stick around campus… right? If that’s the case, this is a huge mistake by PJ Fleck, who could have turned to Cole Kramer after the Purdue game, when he realized Kaliakmanis probably wasn’t the future.

Would Kramer have stayed for free, had PJ turned the team over to him sooner? Who knows… but he certainly would have felt more obliged to stay.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: