Colorado reshuffles NIL market with launch of 5430 Alliance

On3 imageby:Pete Nakos03/26/24

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Shortly after Deion Sanders was named coach at Colorado, multiple boosters started to coordinate plans for an NIL collective to service the Buffaloes.

The nonprofit Buffs4Life NIL Collective launched in October 2022, trying to service all of Colorado athletics. But for Sanders to find success in Boulder, there was a consensus among top donors that he would need a fully-functioning collective.

This past September long-time donor and Colorado alumnus Eric Belcher and a group of fellow donors created the 5430 Foundation. Five months later, consolidation has come to create a unified plan for Colorado athletics, but more specifically, Buffaloes football. The 5430 Alliance is scheduled to launch on Tuesday, combining the Buffs4Life and 5430 Foundation efforts to assist all 350-plus Colorado athletes.

“NIL is a critical component of our athletics programs as we support our student-athletes and compete for national championships,” Colorado Athletic Director Rick George said. “5430 Alliance ushers in a new chapter of NIL at Colorado and allows all our fans and alumni to support our student-athletes through one avenue. We encourage every supporter of the Buffs community to pledge their support to 5430 Alliance.”

Blueprint Sports to assist daily operations

The NIL collective management company Blueprint Sports will service the day-to-day functions of the organization. The company currently works with collectives at Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maryland, NC State, Penn State, Stanford, UCLA and Utah. CEO Rob Sine told On3 that the 5430 Alliance will be one of the biggest staffs under the Blueprint umbrella. The collective plans to hire an executive director, director of operations and development and sales manager.

Belcher will serve as a board member, while the Buffs4Life Foundation will be the premiere charity partner for the alliance.

The collective will offer a monthly or annual package, similar to other models, that ranges from $15 to $250. Already an official partner of Colorado athletics, the alliance will also offer donors to make a one-time donation or a tax-deductible donation through the Blueprint Sports Foundation, a certified 501(c3) organization.

Sine was emphatic that with coach Sanders and stars Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter, the key with the new alliance will be to find ways to monetize exclusive content.

“This one is special, a lot of it is because, as I look back at my time with the Pac-12 Conference when Colorado came in – it’s a neat school with a lot of history,” Sine said. “Rick George, the AD, bringing Deion in, basketball, both men and women, having the success and moving to a new conference. There’s a lot of opportunity here for us, but I’d be remiss to say football isn’t a huge opportunity.

“Probably one of the biggest in the country, because the polarizing brand of coach and the players on the team right now. And the passion and the following, it was a home run and easy decision for us to want to go all-in to help get this fixed and put Colorado on a path to compete with the big boys around the country.”

Colorado football needs to ‘exceed the bar’

Already a member of The Collective Association – the trade association consisting of more than 35 NIL entities – the immediate focus will be to make sure the football and men’s and women’s basketball programs are competitive in NIL ahead of the jump to the Big 12.

In the current college football landscape, donor-driven collectives have become crucial in attracting and retaining talent. The top NIL organizations are operating with an eight-figure budget strictly for football. Sine realizes that, working with a share of collectives in the Big Ten and SEC.

A key piece in the collective’s launch is a gala planned for top boosters the night before Colorado’s spring game. Scheduled for April 26, the event will feature Sanders and the coaching staff along with current and former players. Full details have not been released but Sine said the collective plans to charge $10,000 and up for tables.

Making sure Deion Sanders has all the NIL tools he needs to find success in Boulder is crucial.

“How do you begin to really monetize the activities and really engage fanbases around the country,” Sine said. “Football really has to double its NIL budget from last year to this year. Get basketball in a place where it’s competitive, especially in the Big 12. Those are the paramount benchmarks we’re going to have for the rest of the year.

“The going rate is somewhere $6 to $10 million, but a program like this needs to be $8 million and above. The goal here is to exceed the bar.”

Deion Sanders on board with 5430 Alliance

Maybe most important to the collective’s success will be to secure the backing of Sanders, who goes by “Coach Prime.” The 5430 Alliance already has that.

“WE HERE and we’re not settling for nothing! We have a commitment to DOMINATE on and off the field, and in order to do that we need to DOMINATE in our NIL program as well,” Sanders said in a statement provided to On3.

“5430 Alliance gives EVERY darn Colorado fan the opportunity to be a
part of HISTORY. IT DON’T STOP BABY!”