Deion Sanders, at least while representing CU football, will wear Nike. For now.
Included the five-year contract approved late last month by CU’s Board of Regents and provided to The Denver Post on Tuesday was a clause that requires the new Buffs coach, who had a deal with competing apparel company Under Armour, to wear Nike-branded Buffs products, “as appropriate,” in his new role as CU football coach.
Sanders and his son Shedeur, a sophomore quarterback who recently transferred to CU from Jackson State, both recently signed deals with Under Armour. The Buffs’ contract with Nike, as noted in its agreement with Sanders, expires on June 30, 2025.
Coach Prime’s previous school, Jackson State, also had an apparel contract with Nike when the elder Sanders joined the program — before eventually switching to Under Armour.
While the details of the approved contract — a five-year deal worth up to $29.5 million before bonuses and incentives — largely match the framework outlined in CU’s initial terms sheet, the agreement also gives the new Buffs football coach access to upgrades predecessor Karl Dorrell didn’t have at his disposal. Including a chance to hit something of a reset button after the 2025 season.
The contract features a clause that effectively opens a window for the renegotiation of salary and separation terms after the 2025 season, which would be Sanders’ third.
In the paragraph, CU and Sanders agree to “meet and confer in good faith” on a contract extension after Year 3 in which topics for discussion “must” include “base, supplemental and incentive salary … liquidated damages … and termination without cause and obligation to mitigate.”
The contract, approved by an 8-1 vote by the Regents this past Dec. 22, also provides Sanders a budget of $200,000 annually to use on a private jet “for recruiting.”
Neither the re-negotiation window nor the private jet were present in the 2020 contract given to Sanders’ predecessor, Dorrell, who was let go by the university this past October after an 0-5 start to the season.
The agreement between CU and the 55-year-old Sanders also differs from Dorrell’s deal in terms of the reporting, and approval, of the coach’s outside benefits, income, promotions, and endorsements. Sanders is represented by SMAC Entertainment, a multimedia content company co-founded by ex-NFL great Michael Strahan, and whose offerings include the documentary series “Coach Prime,” which chronicled Sanders’ 2022 season at Jackson State and premiered on Amazon’s Prime streaming service on Dec. 29.
The new Buffs coach must provide athletic director Rick George and CU chancellor Phil DiStefano with a verbal notification of such outside benefits, income, promotions or endorsements by Sept. 1; Dorrell required written notice of said arrangements.
“During the term of this Agreement,” the contract states, “as long as the above-described existing sponsorship and endorsement deals are deemed not to conflict with University sponsorship/endorsement deals, (Sanders) shall have the right to renew or extend the existing deals without restriction.”
Sanders is scheduled to earn $5.5 million in his first season, with a base pay of $500,000 supplemented by $1.75 million for radio, television and public appearances; another $1.75 million for promotion and fund-raising; and another $1.5 million for “development of the student-athlete.” That compensation would increase to $5.7 million in ’24, $5.9 million in ’25, $6.1 million in ’26 and $6.3 million in ‘27.
Sanders also received a $5 million salary pool for his assistants and any support staff.
Coach Prime would owe CU $15 million in liquidated damages if he leaves the school after the first year of his deal. Those damages drop to $10 million if it’s after his second year; $8 million after the third; and $5 million if after his fourth or final years.
If CU chooses to buy out Sanders’ contract prematurely, it would owe him 75% of the remaining base and supplemental salary left on the duration of the agreement.
Sanders’ other incentives include:
• $750,000 if CU wins the national championship;
• $450,000 if CU is invited to a “New Year’s 6” bowl game;
• $150,000 if CU wins six games in a season;
• $150,000 if CU wins the Pac-12;
• $150,000 if CU is invited to a non-“New Year’s 6” bowl game;
• $150,000 if Sanders is named National Coach of the Year;
• $100,000 for each additional win after six games;
• $75,000 if CU plays in a Pac-12 Championship game;
• $75,000 if Sanders is named Pac-12 Coach of the Year;
• $50,000 each time CU attains a team APR of at least 965. In Year 1, that bonus is achieved if CU attains a team APR of at least 954.