New basketball league promises $100K to high school players as alternative to NCAA

Chris Cwik
·3 min read

High school basketball players who have no interest in being part of the NCAA may finally have an alternative. Overtime Elite — a new league backed by the sports media company Overtime — promises high school athletes at least $100,000 annually to join their league, according to Kevin Draper of the New York Times.

Overtime Elite seeks to employ roughly 30 of the top high school basketball players. The league says it will offer a minimum of $100,000 to players, in addition to health and disability insurance. The league will also put aside $100,000 in college scholarship money if players don't go pro.

Overtime will offer each athlete, some as young as 16, a minimum of $100,000 annually, as well as a signing bonus and a small number of shares in Overtime’s larger business. The company will also provide health and disability insurance, and set aside $100,000 in college scholarship money for each player — in case any decide not to pursue basketball professionally.

While all that sounds great, there is one significant draw back to signing with Overtime Elite. Any player who does so will "forfeit their ability to play high school or college basketball," according to Draper.

The league will attempt to operate like a European soccer academy. Players and their family will relocate to one city, where they can live and train together. Overtime says it will hire educators to ensure players get their high school diplomas.

On top of that, Overtime Elite is touting the fact that it has hired people with relevant experience to run the league.

A basketball operations division will include coaches and trainers and will be led by Brandon Williams, the former N.B.A. player who was also previously a front office executive for the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings. The commissioner is Aaron Ryan, a former longtime N.B.A. league office executive.

The league has yet to sign any players, but is confident that will happen.

NCAA planning to let players profit off their likeness

Debates over whether the NCAA should pay its athletes have existed for quite some time. Universities make immense amounts of money off players — via merchandise and ticket sales — that many have questioned why schools are allowed to pocket all of those profits. On top of that, elite college coaches get paid millions of dollars, so these universities are clearly capable of throwing around big money.

The NCAA took a step toward helping the situation in November. Starting in August, players will be allowed to profit off their likeness and name. The NCAA laid out how that could work in a proposal in November. That proposal was supposed to be voted on in January, but the NCAA delayed the vote.

Allowing players to profit off their name and likeness won't completely fix all of the NCAA's issues, but it is a start. The Overtime Elite league will have to hope it can still attract major talent once the NCAA's new rule goes into effect.

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