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New Basketball League to Pay College Players, Will Broadcast Games

Jeff Kotuby

Can an upstart college basketball league do the unthinkable and unseat the NCAA? The Professional Collegiate League hopes its new media distribution deal will help it do just that.

The league today announced its new media rights deal with Next Level Sports Entertainment, a linear channel available through DirecTV, U-Verse, Verizon, and more. While it’s not CBS or ESPN, it’s still a big deal for a young, upstart league to receive a broadcast deal — especially one that doesn’t involve any cash changing hands. Next Level will reportedly receive ad and revenue sharing in conjunction with the league.

The Professional Collegiate League, or PCL for short, is a league built on the mission of paying college basketball players for their services, to the tune of $50,000-$150,000. Unlike the NCAA, PCL players can also pursue third-party agreements like marketing deals or sponsorships. It’s also unknown if the players will receive any piece of the revenue sharing pie like in the NBA or NFL.

The eight-team league is slated to commence play this year, with clubs in 8 cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Norfolk, VA; Philadelphia Raleigh, Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC. To participate, players will have to attend a university, junior college, or technical school (4-year or 2-year) in the city that they play or enroll in an accredited online program. Players will be eligible for scholarships to universities in their team’s area.

Next Level owner Andre Gudger is thrilled with the agreement, saying, “We want to reach urban and underserved communities and highlight their stories,” Gudger said. “I believe in the mission of this league even more than the business model. And I believe in the business model.”

The NCAA has been under scrutiny for years about the way they treat players under their rigid guidelines. While players generate millions upon millions of dollars, their scholarships can be revoked for accepting trivial items such as lunch or a new pair of shoes from a booster or other university official. Sure, the universities are penalized, but the risks on behalf of the university pale in comparison to risks players outside of a few stellar outliers take by just trying to afford basic necessities. The Professional Collegiate League looks to change that by offering these kids a chance to make money for putting their bodies on the line.

Three team names have already been revealed: D.C. Stealth, Carolina Flight, and Baltimore Phoenix. And you can buy merch.

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