‘The Prime Effect’ Takes Hold At CU as Deion Sanders is Proving He’s Worth the $29.5M Paycheck

Some nine months after stepping down as head coach for the Jackson State University Tigers, Deion Sanders, also known as Coach Prime, has had a significant financial impact on sports at the University of Colorado.

BOULDER, COLORADO – APRIL 22: Head coach Deion Sanders of the Colorado Buffaloes watches as his team warms up prior to their spring game at Folsom Field on April 22, 2023 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Money Man

For the first time in 27 years, CU fans have donated $28 million to the athletic department and season tickets have sold out.

“I’m a hope agent,” Sanders told USA Today Sports. “We affect everything. We affect ticket sales, we affect apparel sales. We affect and we know we have the propensity to do that.”

Even before the team had its first game and win on Sept. 2, Sanders appeared to be living up to his five-year, $29.5 million contract. CU’s football team is now in the top-25 rankings.

On top of this, team merch is also selling well. According to Fanatics.com, CU’s merchandise sales have surged, making it the second-highest in the Pac-12 and top 20 in all NCAA schools.

Sales of apparel on Fanatics, the school’s e-commerce partner, jumped over 100 percent in late July compared to the previous year.

As reported by The Denver Post, CU alumni and new fans are wearing “Prime 21” merchandise, signaling optimism about Coach Prime.

“I think since Coach (Prime) has come aboard to the campus, a lot of positive things have happened,” CU chancellor Phil DiStefano told The Post. “Especially with (football) selling season tickets, just being on Fox (for its noon ET national kickoffs) with TCU and with Nebraska … everything is moving in the right direction as far as revenue coming into athletics, whether it’s merchandise or ticket sales.”(And) with (Name-Image-Likeness), going through the collective, having Coach Sanders here has been a transformation in my mind for CU athletics. And everything that I see is on the upswing — including donations, including money going to the collective, season tickets and so on.”

The Prime Effect

According to data from CU’s athletic department, “The Prime Effect” is in full swing as it generated $1.99 million in royalty revenue during the 2022-23 fiscal year that ended on July 1.

University officials disclosed that 29 percent of this revenue came from the sale of co-branded merchandise featuring Coach Prime/Buffs, which amounts to approximately $580,300 in sales for seven months.

From the co-branded merchandise revenue, Sanders receives 12 percent, and the university also gets 12 percent.

In addition, there has been a swift sellout of football season tickets, with 22,457 sold, along with 11,600 student sports passes by Aug. 2.

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