Notre Dame basketball a part of groundbreaking $1 million NIL-based tourney

The Notre Dame basketball team is going to be part of something that could change the shape of the sport in the coming years with an early season, big money tournament.
 Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Micah Shrewsberry talks to Markus Burton
Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Micah Shrewsberry talks to Markus Burton / Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

If you need an example of just how much Micah Shrewsberry has convinced the sports world that Notre Dame basketball is on the way up, then look no further than the Fighting Irish taking part in a groundbreaking NIL-based tournament that could be a real … game changer … for the sport.

Notre Dame basketball, among the elite eight, is set to make its mark in a November "Players Era Festival" in Las Vegas. This event, a unique opportunity for the players, is scheduled for Thanksgiving week and features $1 million NIL payouts for the participating schools.

Players, like Markus Burton, will also be offered the chance to take part in long-term NIL opportunities. So far, seven teams have agreed to take part in the Players Era Festival.

Alabama, Houston, Notre Dame, Oregon, Rutgers, San Diego State and Texas A&M are on board and signed up. So far, the eighth school hasn't been decided on yet but is among a small group that is still being "deliberated" on, according to CBS Sports.

This event, a new NIL endeavor that could become quite popular quickly, isn't a one-off deal. In fact, the people putting it together are said to want to double the number of teams taking part in 2025.

The organizers claim Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan, Syracuse, and Virginia have all discussed participating after seeing how the initial event goes.

Notre Dame basketball looking for new ways to get NIL money into the bank

So why exactly is this even so groundbreaking? It's because each participating school gets $1 million for their NIL collective. The winner of the event will get around another $1 million.

So there's an incentive to play and an incentive to win. Getting that kind of money for a school like Notre Dame is a big deal for its NIL work. The Fighting Irish have notoriously trailed a bit when it comes to the big boys and NIL money.

The NIL collective then distributes the money to the Notre Dame basketball players. 

There might be some alarm bells here because it sounds like a pay-to-play situation. However, the organizers say players will also need to take part in events in and around Las Vegas around the tournament. That way, they're actually being paid for those events rather than playing in the games.

There are likely to be plenty of Notre Dame basketball followers who aren't thrilled about this. NIL is already problematic in the sport. The Players Era Festival seems to exacerbate that. 

However, in this era of college sports, the Irish need to go with the flow to stay competitive. Turning their nose up at this kind of opportunity isn't going to win any games. And the fact that Notre Dame basketball was invited shows there's an expectation that Micah Shrewsberry has already changed the culture in South Bend after a couple of very bad years.