Coaches vs Cancer Jimmy V Classic, State Farm, ACC/Big 10 Challenge, are all familiar tournaments played at the start of the NCAA basketball season.
Most sporting goods companies have stayed above the fray and avoided seeming influence, but the NCAA is broken. Conferences are beginning to broker deals on their own and in many instances the benefits of a conference deal rivals any support the NCAA may give.
Sports apparel companies have direct influence on coaching choices, player choices and in many instances sports apparel companies can have more pull than a college institution president on a sports program.
I say all of this to establish that Nike’s decision to bring a college tournament before the season will disrupt the traditional events of the beginning of the college season and if Nike is disrupting it often means they are preparing.
PK80- Phil Knight Invitational will be a two-tournament men’s college basketball event held in Portland, Oregon honoring Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight for his 80th Birthday and in recognition of his significant contributions to collegiate basketball. Sixteen college teams will participate in what will be the best collection of college basketball teams in one event, at a single site, in the history of the sport.
ESPN and the Rose Quarter will host one of the largest regular season tournaments in college basketball history with games taking place in both the Moda Center and the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The event will consist of two brackets of eight teams, with each bracket limited to one team per conference. Games will be played on Thursday, November 23; Friday, November 24; and Sunday, November 26. Stay tuned for the bracket announcement and game schedules.
Consider that this tourney will bump Duke from the traditional Hall of Fame Tourney. It will bump the Tar Heels from the Maui Invitational. Texas will be bumped from the Legends next fall. The list goes on and on, but it’s the idea that there will be a shoe sponsored tourney during the college season that has me intrigued.
The aftershocks of the Ed O’Bannon case with the NCAA laid the groundwork for a change in the rules of amatuer athletes being paid post NCAA, but I’m a proponent of major college sports teams paying athletes and the PK80 is entering travel basketball territory where the elite players participate in shoe related events. This is an all Nike team event. It has already aligned with ESPN which means that you can guarantee it is being used for recruitment, but what I think this is really about is the professionalizing of the college basketball game via footwear companies.
Let’s be serious if Nike does this for it’s athletes, it’s only a matter of time before adidas and Under Armour make a move to host their own schools in an event. This will lead to NCAA issues and at that point the apparel companies could actually look at developing stronger ties to offset what is a very broken system.
Then again, maybe I’m just reaching and this will be a dope tourney and that’s it…