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NIL Arms Race: Gundy on Importance of NIL Overtaking Importance of New Facilities

‘Put the money in the bank and spend it on NIL.’



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — NIL has been a national talking point around college football the past few years, but the hot topic picking up on a more local level in Boone Pickens Stadium.

Monday marked the second straight media luncheon Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was asked about NIL’s importance. Your father’s college football arms race involved having the nicest facilities, but Gundy said the new wave is being able to compete on the NIL battlefield.

“Don’t build it, put the money in the bank,” Gundy said. “Put the money in the bank and spend it on NIL. That’s just the future, and I’m not saying I agree with it. I only know the sign of the times.

“Players used to want to go somewhere for shiny new facilities and new uniforms and things like that — they still want to go somewhere where they win, but they also want the other stuff. I’m going to hypothetically build a situation: If you brought in 50 of our players and said we’ll NIL you $50 to $60,000 a year cash or we can build you a new weight room and meeting room, which one do you want? They’re gonna take [the money], right? That’s what kids do nowadays.”

The NIL push has been strong in Stillwater in recent weeks.

After the Iowa State loss on Sept. 23, OSU players started promoting Pokes With A Purpose (an OSU-focused collective) on social media. A Pokes With A Purpose QR code popped up on the Boone Pickens Stadium big screen during OSU’s win against Kansas State on Friday, allowing fans to donate from the comfort of their seats.

Pokes With A Purpose is running a campaign to raise $600,000 a year to support 12 offensive linemen with a base NIL package of $50,000 a year over a four-year period, starting in January.

So, the talks of OSU and NIL have seen a considerable uptick in recent weeks.

“There’s a good percentage of players that are leaving schools — and I know for a fact that we’ve had some here that have left — to go take NIL money because they know they’re not a pro player,” Gundy said. “So I can go play for somebody and get $150 or $200,000 for a year for two years, and I’m not good enough to play in the NFL. Or I can stay at a school and get $30 or $40,000, so that’s not a good business decision. You can’t blame them for doing it, but that’s what’s going on.”

Gundy, again, Monday spoke positively of Pokes With A Purpose, calling the collective, “unbelievable.” Gundy said he rarely goes through a day without having a phone call about NIL.

Fundraising is no new ordeal within college athletics. But NIL adds to people already being asked to help donate for new facilities and elsewhere. The ideal world for universities would see instead of money from one pie getting split up more, another pie gets made. But if it hasn’t already, NIL sounds to be overtaking the importance of facilities in this new landscape.

“I think what our administration is doing, tied in with Pokes With A Purpose, is they’re trying to find ways to get these people to come together and make sure we’re not trying to squeeze blood from the same turnip all the time,” Gundy said. “That’s what’s happening.

“Oklahoma State has a number of people that we can get resources from for these type of donations, but we don’t have maybe the numbers that some other schools do. So we have to be very tedious in how we operate and make sure we’re doing it the right way.”

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