The Sunflower Showdown between Kansas and K-State is the fourth-longest continuous series in college football history. And the two rivals meet again Saturday in a game that has Big 12 championship game implications. But even as heated as the rivalry is between the Jayhawks and Wildcats, leaders in both school’s NIL communities are coming together to help each other out.
Recently launched KU-focused Legends of Kansas Collective and K-State-centric Wildcat NIL are hosting “Unrivaled: United Kansas, Elevating Athletes” on March 4, 2024. The joint fundraising event will celebrate the history of the rivalry by featuring an in-depth discussion between KU coach Lance Leipold and K-State coach Chris Klieman. The event is moderated by Mitch Holthus, the Voice of the Kansas City Chiefs and a K-State grad.
All the funds raised will go directly to fund the NIL activities for Legends of Kansas and Wildcat NIL. Event tickets can be purchased for $5,000 and sponsorship opportunities are available. Mammoth Sports Construction is the title sponsor for the event.
Leipold said he is excited about the unique partnership to bring two rivals together for one cause – supporting KU and K-State student-athletes.
“I look forward to an entertaining evening with some great conversation around all things football and the State of Kansas,” Leipold told On3 in a statement.
Klieman is also fired up for the event.
“I am looking forward to being a part of this special event and talking football to our great supporters in Kansas City,” Klieman said. “Partnering with Coach Leipold and collectives from both institutions will provide a unique opportunity to connect with some of our fans while also raising NIL funds for the support of student-athletes.”
What is KU NIL collective space like?
The Kansas NIL space has been dominated since its inception by the Mass St. Collective.
Founded in 2021, the collective has been viewed as the primary collective for KU athletics. The group has forged some of the most creative NIL deals in the country – including helping partner athletes with Sporting Kansas City and getting athletes’ likeness on JD Motorsports driver Brennan Poole’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race car. Mass St. was also named one of the most ambitious NIL collectives in the country earlier this summer.
Yet, as with everything in the NIL space, change came earlier this month when Blueprint Sports announced a “strategic partnership” with Mass St. There are now posts on Blueprint’s website for director of operations, executive director and Development and sales manager positions at Mass St.
What is Legends of Kansas Collective?
The Legends of Kansas Collective was unveiled earlier this month with a football-first focus.
The collective calls itself a fund within the Charitable Gift America 501(c)(3) organization. The collective is “designed to empower Jayhawk football players to make positive impacts on communities and charities close to their hearts while utilizing their name, image and likeness.” Legends of Kansas has yet to announce any player signings, but it does feature a program focused on helping walk-ons on its website.
Legends of Kansas’ board features Micah Brown, David Ochoa, Mike Rivera, Algen Williams and Brandon McAnderson. All are former successful KU football players who have transferred their skills from the field to the business world. McAnderson is KU’s sideline analyst for the Jayhawk Radio Network.
Getting an official blessing for the event and for promotion as a collective by Leipold is a tremendous start for Legends of Kansas.
Wildcat NIL leads K-State marketplace
Wildcat NIL, which was launched in April 2022, is spearheaded by former K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz, former linebacker Ryan Henington, former defensive back Ross Elder, and former player and successful business owner Brad Fulner. Former K-State receiver Curry Sexton joined after launch and the group has become the primary collective in the Little Apple.
Interestingly, the collective does have competition in the marketplace from a Blueprint property – The Wildcats’ Den – but Wildcat NIL has firmly established itself as the go-to collective for K-State athletes and supporters.
Just in the past few months alone, Wildcat NIL has spearheaded deals for athletes with the Furniture Mall Of Kansas, Charlie Hustle, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Jack Stack Barbecue and Western National Bank and many other companies.