New CEO Of Utah Football’s Primary NIL Collective Resigned From Previous Role Amid Financial Scandal Involving Strip Club

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University of Utah athletics officially endorsed the Crimson Collective as the school’s top NIL arm back in April. In doing so, the Utes essentially put an end to decentralized Name, Image and Likeness operations, focused its efforts toward one specific collective and herded its fans toward that collective.

Former Utah athletes Alex Smith, Eric Weddle, and Kevin Dyson sit on The Crimson Collective’s Board of Directors. Star Lotulelei, Kia Misi, Robert Johnson, Lauvale Sape, Terrell Burgess, Stevenson Sylvester, Jordan Wynn, Kenneth Scott, Steve Tate, Britain Covey, Matt Asiata, and Bo Nagahi are all on The Player Advisory Board.

There is a direct correlation between NIL funds and success in college athletics. The Crimson Collective, in layman’s terms, is a crowd-funding platform that compensates athletes in exchange for charitable actions, appearances, or business ventures. It “connects fans, boosters, and local businesses with Utah football student-athletes to provide them with greater NIL opportunities off the field.”

The biggest way to gain an advantage in recruiting is NIL resources. It is the number one thing that moves the needle, that allows you to retain a roster and recruit new guys into the program.

— Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham

The Crimson Collective recently named a new CEO.

Late last week, the collective announced Kyle Brennan as its CEO. Brennan previously served as deputy athletic director and COO at Utah. Now he’s back.

However, his past comes with questions in regard to his handling of finances.

After serving at Utah, Brennan was named the athletic director at Illinois State in January of 2021.

Kyle Brennan (Image courtesy: Illinois State University)

The controversy took place in December of his first year. It ultimately led (in part) to his resignation.

Brennan and another top ISU athletics administrator took a “donor trip” to Indianapolis. They flew together on one of Aaron Rossi’s private jets for the Big Ten championship.

Rossi was the CEO of Reditus Laboratories, which became a COVID-19 testing giant at the peak of the pandemic. He was later charged with three counts of federal tax fraud and six additional counts of mail fraud. Rossi was later accused of stealing more than $100 million from Reditus to fund his lavish lifestyle, among other things.

For Brennan to be associated with Rossi in the first place is not great. But perhaps he was unaware of the outside ongoings. Maybe Brennan didn’t know.

The real issue lies with what happened in Indianapolis.

According to The Pentagraph, Brennan spent $23,000 on the trip. He and multiple donors went to the football game and sat in 100-level seats, hit up a strip club, and stayed overnight in at least eight different rooms at a hotel in a nearby suburb. To make matters worse, WGLT reported that the trip was partly (at least) paid for using money held by The ISU Foundation, Illinois State’s fundraising arm.

The expense was filed under “donor stewardship.”

Brennan’s trip went unchecked for almost two years. Questions surrounding the trip started to surface at the beginning of 2023. Brennan resigned from his role in April.

He cited the controversy as part of why he resigned. Illinois State had three different presidents during Brennan’s time with the university, so he primarily pointed to “different leadership.”

Brennan also told The Salt Lake Tribune that “a lot of things have been written and said that aren’t accurate.” No further explanation as to what was inaccurately reported was given.

Kyle Brennan is back at Utah.

After resigning from Illinois State in April, Brennan was announced as CEO of The Crimson Collective in mid-June. How does that work?

Brennan understands that Utah donors may have questions. Duh.

Brennan said that The Crimson Collective did a full review of the Illinois State incident. He is more than willing to answer those questions honestly.

I’ll have an open and honest conversation with donors about anything [they] want to talk about. But I feel strongly that the people in the state, people in the athletic department, they know what I’m about. I spent 14 years here.

— Kyle Brennan, via The Salt Lake Tribune

Brennan, a man who was at the center of a financial scandal in his last role, will be in charge of finances in his new role. The Crimson Collective and Utah are confident in bringing him back to work, indirectly, with the university. But are the donors?

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.

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