Field announced for Players Era Festival with $1 Million in NIL Money | Zagsblog
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Friday / July 12.
  • Field announced for Players Era Festival with $1 Million in NIL Money

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    The official field for the Players Era, a groundbreaking college basketball initiative with the opportunity for athletes on each participating team to engage in more than $1 million in NIL opportunities with Players Era sponsors outside of competition, has been announced.

    The 2024 Players Era Festival, which will be held Thanksgiving week at the MGM in Las Vegas, will feature a pair of anticipated preseason top-5 teams: the University of Alabama, fresh off a 2024 Men’s Final Four appearance, and the University of Houston. They will be joined by Creighton University, Notre Dame University, the University of Oregon, Rutgers University, San Diego State University and Texas A&M University. This powerhouse lineup includes six programs that competed in last season’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, four teams that reached at least the Sweet 16, five 2024 anticipated preseason top 25 ranked programs, and two of the nation’s top three incoming freshmen in Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper of Rutgers University.

    The Players Era Festival will expand to at least 18 teams in 2025, adding several more preeminent men’s basketball programs including Gonzaga University, the University of Michigan, St. John’s University, Syracuse University, and Saint Joseph’s University, with the rest of the impressive slate of teams for the future field to be announced soon.

    “College athletics is experiencing a monumental shift, and the Players Era Festival is planting a flag on this new frontier with a first-of-its-kind event that will be a game-changer for creating a more equitable model for college basketball,” said EverWonder Studio CEO Ian Orefice. “Everything about the Festival is entirely groundbreaking, from the format to the NIL opportunities for players, and the competition that will make this a must-see event for college basketball fans. With an impressive lineup for this inaugural event, and an even more incredible field lined up for next season, the Players Era Festival will help usher in a new era for college sports.”

    “We are always going to support our student-athletes at the highest levels and do everything we can to help them succeed,” said Nate Oats, University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach. “The Players Era Festival aligns with those objectives. In addition to playing quality opponents in an NCAA tournament-like atmosphere, the trip should provide our players with access to NIL opportunities. We’re looking forward to being part of the inaugural class of participants.”

    “Michigan is excited to participate in the Players Era event. This forward thinking MTE will provide our University and student athletes wonderful new opportunities,” said Dusty May, University of Michigan men’s basketball head coach.

    “This is an opportunity for us to play against some of the best teams in the country early in the season. The Players Era Festival has great teams, great coaches and great players, and we appreciate the chance to compete in its first year. It will be a great way for our program to test itself,” said Kelvin Sampson, University of Houston men’s basketball head coach. 

    The innovative Players Era Festival will be a week-long celebration of college basketball, featuring elite teams, players and coaches, and creative and groundbreaking NIL activities surrounding the games. The festival will introduce an entirely new structure for early-season tournaments, with the expanded 2025 events featuring international-style group play with championship matchups. Every second of every game will matter, in an intensely competitive atmosphere. Beyond the competition on the court, Players Era Festival will feature live music events, financial planning educational programming for participating student-athletes, with a charitable partner to be announced at a later date. 

    “The Players Era events will bring an exciting new tournament format where every game, every minute and every shot matters. The format is based on group play with FIBA rules, creating a unique event that fans from across the country are going to want to see,” said Seth Berger, Executive Producer of Players Era and Former CEO/Co-Founder of And1. “We’re proud to be working closely with the NCAA to ensure that players can receive significant NIL compensation for activities surrounding the events and an exciting, high-stakes competition can take place – all within NCAA guidelines.”

    The full 2024 Festival schedule will be announced later this summer, but the day one matchups will include Houston against Alabama, Rutgers taking on Notre Dame, Creighton facing Oregon, and Texas A&M against San Diego State. 

    In addition to the NIL opportunities available surrounding the festival, all scholarship players who participate in Players Era events will have an opportunity to engage in other NIL activities in return for shares of an equity stake in the entity itself. The first-of-its-kind direct alignment between athletes and owner operators will allow players to further capitalize on their overall NIL opportunities.

    While the debut event for Players Era will be the 2024 tournament in Las Vegas, the broader initiative will expand to add future events with the goal of continuing to grow the game of college basketball and create a year-round focus on the sport. This will include additional content opportunities, including women’s basketball events, offseason events, nonfiction content and merchandising opportunities.  

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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