Interview with Jack Reis, President of Crimson & Gold Collective

What is the NIL Crimson & Gold Collective?
The Crimson & Gold Collective provides name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities to student-athletes at the University of Denver. Our mission is to provide these athletes with opportunities to earn money for who they are and what they do. We also provide education, legal aid, and marketing and branding services. All of our work is funded through endorsements and individual donations. Currently, our focus centers on the men’s basketball program. The Collective is not affiliated with the University of Denver or the Denver coaching staff.

Jack, how did you get interested in DU men’s basketball and why did you become the point person for DU’s new NIL Crimson & Gold Collective?
In 2011, the year I graduated from DU, I and a group of other alumni really threw our passion for DU athletics into the basketball program. We’re a group of basketball fans who saw a team that desperately needed the kind of support you see for some of our
other athletic programs. A year ago, the Friends of DU Men’s Basketball Group was formed and we met to discuss the future of D1 basketball at the school. As we discussed some of the challenges we would face in the coming years, it became clear to me that Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) would become a critical tool in the effort to maintain competitive relevancy. I knew we needed to address that gap and that I was in a position to lend my passion and professional background to the effort.

The tough question – Why do student-athletes deserve to be paid when they have scholarships and a host of other benefits provided by DU?
We get this question frequently. Scholarships cover many typical college costs, but they don’t cover all of the expenses these student-athletes may have to cover. Prior to the formation of NIL rights, only non-student-athletes were allowed to use their skill sets to generate income. NIL rights are a natural and reasonable extension of that concept. Our student-athletes work hard and balancing their extensive academic and athletic responsibilities is a full-time job. It only seems fair that they should be allowed to earn money for their name, image, and likeness.

The truth is that this is the reality we live in now. Almost every team we compete against is already engaged in this type of activity, and it bears out in their ability to attract and retain top talent. Furthermore, as it relates to our area of focus, our basketball student-athletes are frequently some of the most underserved of all the students at Denver. We want to help enrich our student-athletes’ experience at DU – not make them rich for life. We also seek to use the collective as a vehicle to increase engagement between the community and the basketball program. To that end, any service provided by a student-athlete to the Collective must provide real value in return. This is not a pay-to-play system; we believe a DU degree is the ultimate and most rewarding benefit available.

Guaranteed, we will get a strong response from our readers – Why should we care about men’s basketball at DU?
We have a rich tradition of athletic success at DU – lacrosse, skiing, soccer, gymnastics, and hockey. As fans we’re lucky in that way but, on a national scale, it’s no secret that basketball and football move the needle in ways that other sports do not. If we want to improve the value of the DU experience for students, alumni, and supporters a successful basketball program is one significant way to achieve that goal. Anyone who has had a personal experience with our players knows that these are remarkable individuals who embody the values of excellence, innovation, engagement, and integrity. They come to DU believing that they can make history. Why shouldn’t we join them in that effort? And yes, we are crazy enough to believe that it can be done – with NIL as one significant contributor to the team’s future success.

Basketball is the first NIL Collective on the DU campus. Why was it so important to get this up and running? 
Simple, from a competition standpoint, this is imperative. This is the reality at all levels of college sports today – not just the big guys. It’s no secret that we have not been competitive in the Summit League. We need to create a value proposition for our student-athletes equal to or better than the schools we compete against. An effective NIL collective is critical if we expect to compete for championships – that is our vision.

For those who wonder what they can do to see that vision become a reality, the answer lies in an engaged and well-funded collective. Furthermore, we felt an urgency to offer them opportunities to have a college experience commensurate with the rest of the student body at DU. The means to get proper nutrition and meals. The ability to afford travel expenses to see their families or bring them out to visit. The chance to explore our city and state. None of these opportunities should be out of reach for our athletes.

Why are you doing this for basketball only?
I’ll be honest, getting the Crimson & Gold Collective off the runway has involved a lot of late nights and long weekends. For this group, basketball is our first love, and there is considerable urgency around our effort because the rest of the teams in our league have already organized around these new NIL rights. While I’m proud to put in the work, I only have so much time outside of my day job. The same holds for the rest of our group. It makes sense for us to focus on a single sport for the time being, driving success as efficiently as possible. However, we are glad to share what we’ve learned with supporters of any other DU athletic programs.

How can DU recruit, retain and reward basketball players and compete with all the money being thrown around?

I want to make it clear that we are not trying to compete with the major programs from a funding standpoint. We simply want to level the playing field so we can fairly compete in the Summit League where we play. As a group, we are setting attainable goals that will afford student-athletes similar benefits to their peers, as we discussed. We want to offer student-athletes a quality on-campus experience – not generate lifelong wealth. We remain realistic about our goals and the size of our donor base but know that sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option.

“We want to offer student-athletes a quality on-campus experience – not generate lifelong wealth.” -Jack Reis

Some fans believe men’s basketball is not a priority for the University of Denver. Why should people donate to the basketball NIL?
Our NIL collective is voluntary – no one has to support it. However, we believe participation in the collective offers a significant return for donors, student-athletes, and the University of Denver. Successful basketball programs are highly visible on the national stage and drive value and visibility to their institution. Our men’s basketball program is one of the most diverse groups of students on campus, with players hailing from across the country and world, all with varied backgrounds. This is a chance for fans of the program and the University to participate and make a meaningful difference in the lives of our student-athletes, and ultimately the product we see on the court. Support goes directly to the players, who will be engaged in the community, the classroom, and on the court, representing the values of the University of Denver. In my view, donations to the collective are an incredibly meaningful investment in young lives.

How do people know where their money is going when it goes to the Crimson & Gold Collective?
100% of the donations we receive go to the student-athletes. Donors have the option to direct gifts to a specific cause or player or to elect to allow the Crimson Gold Collective to direct funds as we see fit. The list of services these student-athletes can perform in order to earn payment is extensive. Most importantly, it includes working for local non-profits, running basketball camps, and other community-building efforts right here in Denver. For corporate endorsements, this also includes product promotions, event attendance, social media posts, ambassadorships, and more. Remember, athletes must perform a service of value in exchange for compensation, and all activities must meet DU’s compliance department requirements before any funds are disbursed.

How much money do you hope to raise for the upcoming season?
We are working to raise $50,000 this season. We’ve deliberately chosen this number because we believe it allows us to achieve our core goals for the 2023-24 season – retain talent, make an impact on the lives of underserved students at DU, and engage our student-athletes with meaningful work in their community.

Where can people go to learn more about the Crimson & Gold Collective?
Interested parties can learn more about the collective and donate to the cause at Fans of DU athletics can also find us on Instagram at @crimsongoldcollective and on Twitter at @denvernil. Donations are not tax-deductible, and all student-athletes must report and file income.

What is your personal commitment to the Crimson & Gold Collective?                                                                            When we started to assemble the Crimson & Gold Collective, I made a deliberate commitment to two years of work to get this off the ground. As I mentioned, I have a full-time job but I am passionate about this program and what we can achieve for our student-athletes and the University of Denver. The Crimson & Gold Collective is called a collective because it is operated by alumni and fans of DU athletics for the benefit of everyone involved. It does not belong to any one person and requires the engagement of a number of members and leaders to succeed.

Any last thoughts?
The Crimson and Gold Collective is a start-up business, and we are only where we are today because of the hard work of a small group of passionate fans. Anybody who is interested in donating time or money, regardless of the amount, can go to and make a donation, contact us with questions, or simply learn more about our mission. Every contribution has a direct impact on our student-athletes.

I am highly motivated by tackling complex problems, creating sustainable development strategies, and giving back to the institutions that have had a meaningful impact on who I am today. In the face of mounting competitive challenges in college athletics, it’s all too easy to be a critic or adopt a cynical view of our expectations as fans. So, we are faced with a choice. We can take a back seat and hope for the result to change, or we can take action, and rally around a vision of the future that we can all be proud of. We’ve chosen to work toward achieving lofty goals. We’ve chosen action. After all, that’s the Denver way!

5 thoughts on “Interview with Jack Reis, President of Crimson & Gold Collective”

  1. Are these donation tiers meant to be one time or yearly? Is it whatever I feel like?

    My other alma mater is an SEC school that has been at this for awhile – they do monthly plans that start at $15 – is that possible in the future? $500 to 3,500 is likely going to give some sticker shock.

  2. The Crimson & Gold Collective is flexible – they have a bank account and can accept credit cards. I am sure they can take a recurring, smaller amounts over time. Just drop Jack a note and he can give you details. Inquires can be sent to Jack at

  3. It is so commendable that Jack is taking on this support of athletics simply as his passion, not to make a buck himself. DU should be proud to have alumni like Jack!

  4. Well done, Jack and the rest of the crew that’s put so much effort into getting the Crimson & Gold Collective off the ground. One point from the interview really sticks out with me – as supporters of the program we can choose the be cynical or even sit back and hope for the best, or we can take action. Choosing to be proactive can have a huge impact on DU Men’s Basketball. Great work, Jack and team!

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