This year's March Madness Tournament did not disappoint! Both the men's and women's tournament was a thrilling ride that any true college basketball fan would appreciate. The University of Kansas Jayhawaks was the big winner of the men's tournament. The South Carolina Gamecocks took home the trophy in the women's tournament. However, the teams and their respective schools were not the only big winners this year as this was the first March Madness tournament in the name, image, and likeness (NIL) era. Several college athletes were able to take advantage of their athletic fame during the March Madness tournament.
In the Men's Tournament, the Saint Peter's Peacocks became the Cinderella team that took the nation by storm when they upset the number 2 seeded University of Kentucky. The Peacocks made it all the way to the Elite 8 where they lost to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While Saint Peter's made a historic run in the tournament, some of the players took advantage of their new-found fame. Saint Peter's guard, Doug Edert landed two NIL deals during the team's ascension into March Madness history. Edert created an account on Cameo - where he charges fans $100 to receive a message from him. Cameo is an online service that enables people to hire celebrities to create personalized videos. Edert was not the only men's basketball player to take advantage of NIL during the March Madness tournament.
Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren partnered with Yahoo Sports to promote their March Madness bracket challenge. Holmgren also signed a NIL deal with Bose, the headphone/speaker company. Similarly, Duke University's Paolo Banchero saw his NIL valuation rise tremendously. Men's players were not the only beneficiaries. Banchero's NIL valuation grew to the 10th largest in college basketball. The men's players were not the only players that were able to secure NIL opportunities during the tournament. Several women's basketball players reaped the benefits of NIL during this year's March Madness tournament.
According to Opendorse, Women's college basketball players ranked second in NIL earnings through March 31st. UConn's Paige Bueckers contributed to that number. She entered a NIL deal to address food insecurity for students during the March Madness tournament. Bueckers became the first college athlete to become a brand ambassador for the education platform Chegg. Similarly, the University of South Carolina Gamecock's Aliyah Boston landed a NIL with Orangetheory Fitness. Under the deal, Boston will receive a trip to the Orangetheory Headquarters in Florida, a lifetime membership, a chance to a class, and VIP access for her teammates and coaches.
As can be seen, this March Madness was like no other. The basketball players who makes the tournament possible was finally able to reap some of the benefits of their athletic fame and reputation.
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