DAILY DIRT: How times have changed for big-time college athletes, specifically their bank accounts.


Bronny James and Arch Manning have already made millions as teenagers merely because of their last names. Yay, nepo babies! - wikipedia and texassports.com

Daily Dirt for Sunday, March 31, 2024

Can you imagine the money someone the caliber of Jim Brown or Larry Bird could have earned in today’s cash-rich world of college athletics? … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 907 of The Daily Dirt.

1. It’s a whole new world when it comes to star amateur athletes’ ability to earn major chunks of cash through NIL deals.

NIL, the acronym for “Name, Image and Likeness,” is still in its relatively early stages since its 2021 introduction to amateur sports. But make no mistake about it, it is allowing many student-athletes the opportunity to make sizable amounts of money long before they turn pro.

In the simplest of terms, NIL describes the means through which college athletes are now allowed to receive financial compensation. Amateur athletes can now sign deals allowing for the use of their name, image and likeness in marketing and promotional endeavors. And when they are compensated, it is normally quite well.

Here are the current NIL leaders gathered from a variety of media outlets:

1. Bronny James, USC basketball player, $4.9 million: The son of superstar LeBron James made his collegiate debut just months after suffering a cardiac arrest during July 2023 preseason training. He finished the season with 25 game appearances, playing an average of 19.4 minutes per game.

Coming out of high school, James was a five-star recruit and soon signed deals with PSD Underwear, Nike, Beats by Dre and Klutch Sports Group (for representation). It’s unclear how many new deals James has signed since his cardiac arrest, though he was featured in a March 2024 Android ad, which he shared on Instagram with his 7.5 million followers.

With a total social media following of more than 13 million and plenty of NCAA eligibility remaining, only time will tell just how lucrative James’ college career could become.

2. Shedeur Sanders, Colorado quarterback, $4.7 million:Sanders made waves in college football last season alongside his dad and coach, Hall of Famer “Coach Prime” Deion Sanders, after transferring from Jackson State University to Colorado.

Despite finishing his junior year season 4-8 overall, Sanders threw for more than 3,000 yards with a 69.3 percent completion percentage.

Sanders has already made more than $4 million in NIL money, thanks to sponsorships with companies like Urban Outfitters, Oikos, Mercedes-Benz, Actively Black and Gatorade.

3. Livvy Dunne, LSU gymnast, $3.6 million: At the moment, she’s the highest-paid female collegiate athlete in the NIL’s still-brief history. With a combined social-media following of 12.6 million people, Dunne is one of the most-followed student-athletes ever, which likely helps brands gravitate toward her. She has reported deals with a variety of brands like American Eagle Outfitters, Vuori, Too Faced Cosmetics, Grubhub, Motorola and Leaf Trading Cards. Most recently, Dunne announced on Instagram that she’s the face of Nautica’s Spring ’24 collection.

4. Caitlin Clark, Iowa basketball star, $3.1 million. (This figure is likely growing by the hour.)

Other notables

  • 5. Arch Manning, Texas (backup) quarterback, $2.8 million.
  • 6. Travis Hunter, Colorado two-way football standout, $2.4 million.
  • 7. Quinn Ewers, Texas quarterback, $1.9 million.
  • 8. Angel Reese, LSU basketball player, $1.8 million.
  • 9. Jaden Milroe, Alabama quarterback, $1.6 million.
  • 10. Carson Beck, Georgia quarterback, $1.5 million.

2. I have lived about half of my adult life in Illinois, the other half in Ohio.

So I’m well-versed in how Midwesterners speak.

That’s why when I heard a comedy routine from a fellow named Miles Montplaisir I was rolling on the floor. (Figuratively, of course.)

Montplaisir’s routine was “how Midwesterners talk,” and it was spot on. Here’s a few samples:

“We pretend the weather doesn’t suck. It’s how we bond. Bad weather brings us together.”

Montplaisir says Midwesterners are always defending the weather.

Such as the cold:

“You know, it wouldn’t be so bad out if it wasn’t for the wind.”

Or the heat:

“You know it’s not the heat that will get you, it’s the humidity.”

Or the rain:

“This rain’s been good for the farmers. They needed it.”

Montplaisir is a native of North Dakota and played college football in Minnesota, so he knows the territory of which he speaks — very well.

3. Montplaisir also hit the nail on the head when he addressed how Midwesterners measure distance.

And that would be by minutes, and not miles:

“You say it’s about an hour and a half,” he explained. “You never ever say, ‘It’s about 100 miles.’ You don’t care how far away some place is by miles — it’s how long it will take you to get there.”

Steve Thought O’ The Day – Go back to that first thought for a minute. Is there any doubt the eventual No. 1 will likely be Arch Manning, once he becomes a starting quarterback at Texas — or somewhere else. I will predict he’ll be the first $10 million college athlete.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. This just in: College athletics is no longer amateur.

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