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In-season college basketball invitational to offer $2 million NIL payouts

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Another first is coming to the NIL space, this time in college basketball.

A new in-season men’s college basketball tournament will offer up to $2 million in NIL deals to participating teams. The news was first reported by Front Office Sports. A source told On3 that Alabama, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Houston, Kansas, Oregon, Rutgers, San Diego State, St. John’s, Syracuse and Virginia are all in talks to participate.

Slated for Thanksgiving weekend, the eight-team tournament will be held at MGM Arena in Las Vegas. There were discussions about possibly holding the tournament, named “Players Era,” at The Sphere, a source told On3.

A source told On3 that every team in the tournament is guaranteed at least $1 million in NIL dollars for participating. The money will either be funneled to participating school’s NIL collective, boosters or a school’s NIL entity. Programs will distribute the cash at their own will. The only caveat is dollars must go to the current team.

Set to be operated by EverWonder Studio and AND1 CEO of basketball Seth Berger, plans are in place to expand to 16 teams in 2025. According to FOS, distribution has not been set but there have been conversations with linear and streaming-based broadcasters.

The winning team will be eligible to earn another $1 million. The College Basketball Invitational offered NIL agreements a year ago, with the winning school receiving $25,000, the runner-up $10,000 and each team semifinals loser $2,500.

Rutgers jumps out as a possible participant in the “Players Era,” with commitments from two of the top three prospects in the 2024 class in Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper. The Scarlet Knights currently have the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation.

The Blue Devils are also loaded with three five-star commits: Cooper Flagg, Khaman Maluach and Isaiah Evans.