Skip to main content

Report: Notre Dame to participate in ‘NIL-driven’ men’s hoops event in Las Vegas

IMG_7504by:Jack Soble05/08/24


According to a report from CBS Sports senior writers Matt Norlander and Dennis Dodd, Notre Dame is set to participate in a first-of-its-kind, “NIL-driven” multi-team event during Thanksgiving Week in Las Vegas.

The event, named the “Players Era Festival,” would give $1 million in NIL money to each participating school. It is not finalized, and a Notre Dame spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. However, it’s reportedly expected to be finalized “in the coming weeks.”

For the full CBS Sports story, click here.

What is the Players Era Festival?

The Players Era Festival is reportedly an eight-team (at least for now) multi-team event, or MTE. Norlander and Dodd wrote that the event’s organizers are still deciding whether to employ an eight-team tournament bracket or two separate four-team tournament brackets.

Games will likely take place on Nov. 26, 27 and 29, according to the report.

MTEs, such as the well-known Maui Invitational or the Legend’s Classic that brought the Irish to Brooklyn last season, are common in college basketball. Teams like them because they often attract national attention and strengthen their non-conference resumes. The NIL angle, though, makes the Players Era Festival unique.

Each school’s NIL collective, according to the CBS report, would be paid $1 million. “Additional significant NIL opportunities,” Norlander and Dodd wrote, would go to the winner(s) of the tournament(s). The collectives would then distribute that money to their school’s players.

The players — and this is important — would have to participate in “multiple off-the-court activities to earn that NIL money” in Las Vegas, per the report. That is a significant qualifier and it’s essentially what makes the event NCAA-compliant, as Norlander and Dodd explained.

“That quid pro quo agreement for NIL money is a key distinction and at the core of the appeal of the festival,” Norlander and Dodd wrote. “Pay-for-play remains against NCAA rules. However, athletes can be paid for NIL work surrounding the actual games, which is the pitch here.”

Which schools are involved?

In addition to Notre Dame, Norlander and Dodd reported that Alabama, Houston, Oregon, Rutgers, San Diego State and Texas A&M will participate in 2024. One more undetermined school will join, per the report, to create an eight-team event.

Norlander and Dodd also wrote that Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan, Syracuse and Virginia “have all engaged in discussions” about joining the event in 2025, when the organizers reportedly plan on doubling the size of the field. The schools involved in 2024 would likely continue participating in 2025 and beyond, according to the CBS story.

What would participating mean for Notre Dame?

If these excerpts from Norlander and Dodd’s story are any indication, playing in the Players Era Festival would be positive news for the Irish.

Excerpt No. 1:

“If there are events where there’s an extraordinary amount of money involved, and there’s no donor fatigue involved in this, how do you not play in this?” one coach participating in the Players Era Festival told CBS Sports. “There’s not a decision we make that’s not NIL-driven. I’ll play in the parking lot of Mandalay Bay, just clear the f—ing check.” 

Excerpt No. 2:

“I would play on Nick Jr., I would play on YouTube. It doesn’t matter,” a coach scheduled to play in the event told CBS Sports. “All the other stuff passed through our compliance smell test all the way through. We have not run up against a road block that is a definitive no.”

Said another coach in the event: “As long as they get it compliant, our administration is full-go.” He later said, “You’d be stupid not to do this if you were invited.”

Basically, as long as it’s NCAA-compliant — and the CBS report says multiple times that the schools involved believe it is — the Players Era Festival would greatly increase Notre Dame’s ability to compete in the men’s basketball NIL world. Norlander and Dodd reported that high-end transfers in 2024 are often promised over $1 million, so in theory, the NIL money from this MTE would give the Irish a better shot at improving their roster in 2025.

What complicates this news for Notre Dame?

The Irish were already scheduled to play in the Rady Children’s Invitational from Nov. 28-29 at LionTree Arena in San Diego, competing alongside Purdue, Arkansas and BYU. That MTE would directly conflict with the Players Era Festival, which will take place in that same time frame.

The CBS report, though, implied that Notre Dame might have backed out of that event.

“Some schools in the 2024 field reneged on previous deals with other MTEs, inviting further discord,” Norlander and Dodd wrote.

You may also like