Syracuse Basketball: More tourneys with millions in NIL dollars will come - Jay Bilas

Syracuse basketball may compete in a tourney with millions in NIL deals. More such events are likely coming, per Jay Bilas.
Syracuse basketball may compete in a tourney with millions in NIL deals. More such events are likely coming, per Jay Bilas. / Katharine Lotze/GettyImages

Syracuse basketball is reportedly among the teams in talks to possibly play in an in-season tournament during the next campaign that would provide millions of dollars in name, image and likeness deals.

And this kind of tournament, where participants receive substantial NIL payments, is likely going to be replicated one way or another, according to top college basketball analyst Jay Bilas of ESPN.

Last Saturday, on ESPN’s College GameDay, Bilas discussed the potential domino effect of this new in-season tournament, called “Players Era,” according to an article from On3’s Nick Schultz.

But Bilas’ comments didn’t necessarily reflect the notion of another in-season tournament with massive NIL payouts. Rather, per the On3 report, Bilas suggested that it could prove enticing for an event like this in March, when the annual NCAA Tournament transpires.

“The money, that million dollars per team, goes into the university’s collective or into the school’s collective. And that way, it goes to the players. Like, who wouldn’t want to play in that?” Bilas said in part.

He added, “Rather than going into a tournament and spending money to get there, it costs you money, you’re not really making that much. Now, the players are making money, and it’s going to – as this gets bigger, and I think it will, it’s going to go into March.”

I have to say, if a tournament popped up that took place when the annual Big Dance does, that I imagine could have some ramifications for March Madness. That’s just my opinion, though. We’ll have to see how this all shakes out in the future.

Syracuse basketball could suit up in a big-time event in the Sin City.

Not too long ago, Amanda Christovich, a sports business reporter with Front Office Sports, first broke the news on “Players Era,” with other reports following hers.

This event is likely to include eight teams this fall and expand to 16 teams starting in 2025, with the location slated for the MGM Arena in Las Vegas and potentially happening over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to On3’s Pete Nakos, a college sports business and transfer portal expert.

Nakos reported that college squads in talks to possibly compete in the first iteration of “Players Era” include Syracuse basketball, Alabama, Duke, Florida Atlantic, Houston, Kansas, Oregon, Rutgers, San Diego State, St. John’s and Virginia.

Reports have stated that teams playing in this tournament would get at least $1 million in NIL dollars, with that money “funneled to participating school’s NIL collective, boosters or a school’s NIL entity,” according to Nakos.

In Central New York, the preferred collective of SU Athletics is Orange United, which launched last September to provide NIL opportunities for all ‘Cuse sports and is managed by the Atlanta-based Student Athlete NIL (“SANIL”).

Regarding “Players Era,” the NIL payouts have to go to participants’ current teams, and the event’s winner would be eligible to receive another $1 million.

Currently, college teams annually play in preseason tournaments, usually dubbed multi-team events (“MTEs”). The Orange, for one, this past November competed in Hawaii.

However, as Bilas said, MTEs “are put forth by organizers who are making the money themselves. This (“Players Era”) is for the players to make money. And obviously, the organizers will do well, as well. But their goal is to have a financially equitable environment and to grow the game through great competition in the early season. I think the NBA’s in-season tournament was really helpful in illuminating that this is an important market.”

This set of comments from Bilas is eye-opening, from my perspective. He said, “Can you imagine getting an invitation from a March tournament where you can make into your collective $2 (million) or $3 million? You go to the NCAA tournament, your players get a t-shirt? That’s going to be that’s going to be a thing, and the NCAA is gonna have to respond. Revenue sharing is coming, and they don’t want to admit it. But it’s coming, and now it’s here.”

Let’s see. Millions of dollars or a t-shirt. That’s a tough call. While the annual Big Dance is my favorite sporting event of all time, it’s pretty crazy how things are shifting – maybe evolving is the better word – in college basketball and the entire landscape of collegiate athletics.

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