Sep 16, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders on the set of ESPN College GameDay prior to the game between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Colorado State Rams at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Deion Sanders was arguably the biggest star in college football last season, and he didn’t play a down. In his first year as head coach at the University of Colorado, Deion was everywhere in the first two months of the season as the Buffaloes got off to a surprising hot start. The program was the top story in sports in September and October as celebrities were showing up at Colorado games, ratings were through the roof, and it seemed like there was no end in sight to the hype.

Of course, the on-field product at the University of Colorado came crashing down with a thud. Sanders’ team lost their last six games to finish 4-8 on the season. But off the field, it was a resounding success in every way imaginable for Sanders and Colorado. That included a crazy 51% jump in the school’s multimedia rights to $8.1 million versus just $5.5 million a year ago as sponsors poured in.

Via Sportico:

The revenue the University of Colorado generates from its multimedia rights (MMR) jumped 51% in Deion Sanders’ first year as the Buffaloes head football coach.

CU’s athletic department’s MMR is managed by Learfield, which shares in the money generated from sponsorships, radio advertisements, digital signage and other commercial opportunities. The company is projecting to generate $8.3 million in fiscal 2024, which includes Sanders’ first football season, according to a “confidential” report Sportico received via an open records request. That’s up from $5.5 million in fiscal 2023. 

The spike is good for Learfield, but especially beneficial to Colorado under their current arrangement. Their contract stipulates that the school receives 60% of the first $5 million of “adjusted gross revenue”—total revenue minus some expenses—then 65% of everything over $5 million. Last year, there was no AGR over $5 million and Colorado pocketed $2.9 million in rights fees. This year, the total AGR is $7.2 million, so Colorado will see a chunk of money at the higher 65% share. CU is currently projected to receive $4.5 million under the agreement in fiscal 2024, though not all the money has been collected.

Sanders’ starpower isn’t going anywhere, even if Colorado doesn’t quite take the country by storm once again and the general public has more realistic expectations for the team this season. College GameDay, Big Noon Kickoff, and the likes of First Take probably won’t be showing up every single week once again this season unless there is more of a sustained run of success at the school. However, there will still be a ton of interest and a ton of dollars that will follow Coach Prime no matter what happens with Colorado’s results. The early hype last season brought an estimated $90 million of value in extra media coverage to the school. That’s just how popular Sanders is as a college football head coach and how much he rocketed Colorado into the national conversation instantly.

Sanders will probably need to improve on that 4-8 record if he is to repeat as Sports Illustrated’s Sports Person of the Year, though.