A new in-season college basketball tournament is set to offer participating teams up to $2 million in NIL deals, per an exclusive report by Front Office Sports. The “Players Era” tournament is looking to invite eight college basketball teams to compete in the tournament, which will take place at MGM Arena in the Fall.

The tournament organizers are currently in talks with Duke, Kansas, FAU, Virginia, Oregon, Alabama, Syracuse, Houston, St. John’s, and San Diego State for participation. EverWonder Studio, the tournament operator, has committed to providing $1 million in NIL funds to each school through sponsors and partners. The funds will be allocated to collectives, boosters, or other NIL entities, with coaches and teams having the discretion to distribute the money to current players. The champions have the opportunity to earn an additional $1 million, to be distributed accordingly.

As of this writing, Everwonder has yet to secure a media deal for the tournament but is in talks with both linear and streaming companies. The tournament will look to expand to 16 teams in 2025.

The tournament announcement coincides with the widespread discussion around NIL in college basketball. The NCAA recently instructed member schools to halt investigations into third-party involvement in NIL activities. Following a court order in Tennessee blocking NCAA restrictions on athletes negotiating NIL deals during recruitment per a report by 247 Sports. NCAA President Charlie Baker informed schools to pause new investigations into third-party NIL activity as long as the injunction is valid.

Additionally, the men's basketball team at Darthmoth College has decided to unionize and has voted 13-2 in favor of joining the Service Employees International Union Local 560. By unionizing, the players can now negotiate for a salary, healthcare benefits, and improved working conditions, including practice hours.

This establishes an intriguing precedent in the NIL landscape of college basketball, challenging the notion of amateurism as college players aim to receive fair compensation for their involvement in college athletics.