In a groundbreaking move within the landscape of collegiate sports, the Utah Crimson Collective, an NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) group dedicated to supporting Utah athletics, has unveiled a monumental initiative that is set to change the game for Ute football players.
At Utah’s iconic Rice-Eccles Stadium, an awe-inspiring sight unfolded as a fleet of brand-new 2024 Ram 1500 (DT) pickups rolled onto the field in a surprise presentation before members of the Utes football team. The news that followed was nothing short of extraordinary: each of the 85 scholarship athletes would receive a truck of their own.
The magnitude of this initiative is nothing short of historic, estimated to be in the seven figures. The retail price of each truck was approximately $61,000, demonstrating the substantial investment made by the Crimson Collective to support their athletes.
Funded by collective donations, the trucks will be provided to players on a unique leasing arrangement spanning six-month contracts. These contracts are expected to roll over, contingent on a player’s eligibility and continued enrollment at the university. The leases will conclude when a player’s eligibility expires or if they transfer. Additionally, the collective has committed to covering the insurance costs for each truck.
Facilitating this visionary project is the Ken Garff Automotive Group, a prominent name in the automotive industry and one of the largest auto dealers in the country. Partnering with a host of Utah donors from the Crimson Collective, the Ken Garff Automotive Group has played a pivotal role in bringing this ambitious endeavor to life.
The partnership doesn’t end there; the collegiate streaming application, For The Win 360 (FTW360), has joined forces with the Crimson Collective. The vehicles are adorned with an advertising wrap featuring the branding of FTW360, solidifying this collaboration.
Derek Mattson, CEO of FTW360, and Matt Garff, board chair of the Crimson Collective and part-owner of the Ken Garff Automotive Group, spearheaded this monumental project. The logistics of transporting nearly 100 trucks from a Detroit Ram plant to Salt Lake City amidst an ongoing auto-workers strike is nothing short of a logistical marvel.
FTW360, Mattson’s application, is a comprehensive hub for all Utah athletics content, offering scores, summaries, game highlights, behind-the-scenes stories, news, and interviews. The surprise presentation at Rice-Eccles Stadium was live-streamed on the app, amplifying the reach and impact of this historic event.
The Crimson Collective operates as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and this truck distribution aligns with one of its primary missions: to provide education, housing, and transportation to Utah athletes through NIL endeavors with local charities. “If we want them to go around town to help with these causes, we need to provide them transportation,” explains Garff, underlining the practical significance of this initiative.
This endeavor holds a special place for Garff, with deep family ties to the university. His grandfather, Ken, founder of Ken Garff Automotive, was an alumnus of Utah, as were Garff’s parents, siblings, and their spouses. Their dedication to the school and the community is evident in their mission to incentivize children to learn and chase their dreams.
When the players found out they were each getting a Dodge Ram pic.twitter.com/Sofq0knKov
— Josh Furlong (@JFurKSL) October 4, 2023
Since May, the Crimson Collective has raised an impressive $3 million, with ambitious plans to reach $6 million by December. While the total value of the NIL deal with the Rams surpasses $6 million, there’s a forward-thinking approach in place. After a year, Ken Garff Automotive can sell the trucks to the general public as part of a leasing agreement through United Fleet Management.
As for the future, Garff remains optimistic and open-minded. “If it works, we’ll keep going. We are ordering vehicles as we need them,” he says, hinting at the potential for this transformative initiative to impact Ute football players for years to come. The intent is clear: to figure out what works and, if successful, to continue this extraordinary venture.
Source: Daily Utah Chronicle