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College Athletics

New In-Season Men’s College Basketball Tournament to Offer $2M in NIL Deals

  • The eight-team event—expanding to 16 teams in 2025—will pay out $1M to each team, and another million to the winner.
  • Coaches, collectives, and NIL operators will distribute the earnings to current players.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

A first-of-its-kind men’s college basketball tournament launching this fall will offer up to $2 million in name, image, and likeness deals to participating teams.

The tournament, dubbed Players Era, will host eight teams this fall at MGM Arena in Las Vegas and 16 teams starting in 2025. The event will be operated by EverWonder Studio (which was created by former Time president Ian Orefice and backed by RedBird IMI and Jeff Zucker) and AND1 CEO of Basketball Seth Berger. EverWonder hasn’t yet secured distribution but is in talks with both linear and streaming-based broadcasters.

The tournament operator is guaranteeing that sponsors and other tournament partners will offer each school a total of $1 million in NIL money for participating. That money will be funneled to collectives, boosters, or other NIL entities, and the coaches and teams will be able to distribute that money however they see fit, as long as the money goes to current players. The winning team will be eligible to earn another $1 million, to be distributed in the same way. 

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, tournament organizers are in discussions with Alabama, Duke, FAU, Houston, Kansas, Oregon, San Diego State, St. John’s, Syracuse, and Virginia to participate. Each team will also receive free travel, lodging, and meals during the event.

Editors’ note: RedBird IMI, of which RedBird Capital Partners is a joint venture partner, is an investor in Front Office Sports.

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