Kansas players set to cash in thanks to NIL, potentially setting a model for future NCAA title-winning teams

Imagine a world where all the national champions in men’s and women’s basketball (also soccer) celebrated their haul in a way that earned players money and allowed them to benefit from their achievements.

After all, you don’t have to imagine it: that world is here.

Kansas men’s basketball is about to set the standard for what every national title winner in the three biggest varsity sports can and likely will do after every national championship game going forward. As recently reported, Kansas players will soon embark on a statewide tour of publicity and celebration in light of the Jayhawks 2022 NCAA Tournament Title. Kansas has done things like this in the past, with its outgoing seniors, but this time it’s different. This time all players can and will benefit from their achievements, their names, their images, their look-alikes, and their legendary local status as 2022 National Champions.

As they should.

All the players, all 18 on the Kansas roster, are scheduled to be there. Notably, that includes first-team All-American/Final Four standout Ochai Agbaji, as well as Final Four hero David McCormack, future NBA Draft pick Christian Braun, and potential starters who returning DaJuan Harris Jr. and Jalen Wilson.

There’s even a website for this celebration tour, complete with a countdown clock and this message: “Join us for a night of fun filled with live silent auctions and autograph signings with all 18 players. This is something to celebrate, having only been seniors on previous tours. Don’t miss the silent and live auctions taking place during the event and halftime. You won’t want to miss out on your chance to win some of the special player memorabilia from KU. On Saturday, April 23, come cheer on your national champions. Rock Chalk!”

They will begin by visiting a high school in Wichita, Kansas. Memories will be signed. Photos will be taken with giddy Kansas players and KU fans, young and old. There will be a special VIP dinner and players will also participate in a skills camp for the children who attend. Fans will also get to see some live action basketball as KU players will play a fight for fun.

Sounds like a dream experience after months and months of hard work leading up to a prized championship run. Kansas players will bask in the glory of their title, while Jayhawks fans will have the opportunity to experience something they will remember for the rest of their lives. Tickets will cost from $30 to $125.

Possibly the best part: Kansas players will collectively receive 70% of ticket revenue from many of these events that end up happening in the coming weeks. What’s more, any Kansas championship team that is sold, 100% of those proceeds will go back to the players. This is the platonic ideal of NIL rights in action. It is based on merit. Kansas won the national title, now its players get the benefits of their work by getting paid, and everything is allowed under the name, image and likeness rules.

Everybody wins.

Kansas was prepared for this too. The school partnered with a company called 6th Man Strategies, which was started by former KU baseball player Matt Baty, in the fall of 2021. Kansas basketball is the biggest business in that state. There were going to be huge NIL opportunities, and Baty knew it. By virtue of winning the national title, Kansas players now have the opportunity to get out in the community, celebrate their title and get a little extra bonus.

The world of NIL has exploded with a variety of individual opportunities to earn money. What Kansas is doing here is a twist on that: It’s for the whole team. A community experience. It’s a way for everyone, from Agbaji and McCormack to the entourage, to capitalize on their accomplishments. A wonderful thing, and the latest example of NIL player rights enhancing the experience for college athletes.

This is just the beginning. The possibilities are wide. Expect to see Kansas’ title tour roster become the norm for national champions for years to come; otherwise it would be a wasted opportunity. To support a college sports team is to ingratiate yourself with the ups and downs of the fandom. When a team wins a title, it uplifts the community in many ways. Schools have always benefited from championship equipment, commemorative memorabilia and the like. They still will.

Now the players get their share.

What if Alabama wins another football title in 2023? Sure, the list is much larger, but don’t you think an army of Alabama fans in that state wouldn’t happily show up and pay to shake hands, take pictures and bid on auction items from the CFP title game? Of course. The same goes for any other fanbase, and this is probably just the beginning. Creative minds will eventually find bigger and broader ways to rally support from the community and put a little money in the pockets of players after making history in school.

Take your pick: UConn, Stanford or South Carolina women’s basketball; Clemson, Georgia, or Ohio State football; Duke or Kentucky or Gonzaga or North Carolina or whatever team ends up winning the 2023 men’s national basketball title. It doesn’t matter what state, what school or how it’s done: everyone wants to celebrate a championship, doing it even beyond to hold a parade. All title-winning schools could take advantage of this in the future the way Kansas is now. They would be fools if they didn’t.

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