The Crimson & Gold Collective: A Different Kind of NIL

When Jack Reis assumed the presidency of the Crimson & Gold Collective, DU Men’s Basketball’s Crimson & Gold NIL (Name, Image, & Likeness) program, he envisioned a unique mission. He aimed to offer earning opportunities to student-athletes but also to serve the broader good of communities around Denver.

While most students are enjoying a summer break, DU basketball players are immersing themselves in summer classes and rigorous practice sessions for the upcoming season. Yet, even these commitments didn’t deter players like Tommy Bruner, Isaiah Carr, Devin Carney, Isaiah Addo-Ankrah, and Deandre Craig from waking up at 5:30 AM on a Saturday to serve over 500 meals to some of Denver’s most vulnerable residents at the Denver Rescue Mission.

The following is a guest post from Reis:

Our student-athletes come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, some very different from those of the average undergraduate student. They value the Crimson & Gold Collective not just for the income opportunities it provides, but also for the chance it offers to engage with underserved members of the Denver community. While we embrace ‘traditional’ NIL activities, we see an opportunity to uplift our neighbors and build a greater connection with the people and places that make this city so special. Supporters of the collective understand their contributions are meticulously managed to benefit not only the athletes themselves, but also the interests of the University of Denver and the surrounding community.

It’s a win-win situation. Our athletes forge stronger connections with the Denver community, transforming NIL into more than a mere ‘business transaction.’ Moreover, it binds our student-athletes to the community in which they live, study, and play. Our aim is to bolster the emotional investment these student-athletes have in their community. In our experience, that investment is returned tenfold by a city full of passionate fans who want to see their college basketball program achieve success at the highest level.

Beyond the obvious benefits, our visit to the Denver Rescue Mission also presents team-building advantages. In this era of college athletics, characterized by the transfer portal, loyalty, and camaraderie wield substantial influence when student-athletes consider remaining at their current university or pursuing opportunities elsewhere. So, nurturing a tightly-knit group off the court has become a top priority. Throughout a grueling basketball season, these shared experiences will bolster their resilience in the face of adversity both on and off the court, strengthening their bonds as teammates.

These young men are special, especially if you spend the time to get to know them off-court. If you share our vision, we invite you to visit and join fellow students, alumni, and supporters by making a contribution. Contributors are able to specifically direct the activities of our student-athletes, whether for charitable or non-charitable purposes. Alternatively, they may elect to have the collective take charge of orchestrating the student-athletes’ engagements. Our efforts will not only improve the competitive strength of the program but, crucially, contribute to the personal growth of our athletes as individuals, teammates, and Pioneers.

Top photo: DU Point Guard, Tommy Bruner

Leave a Reply