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Overtime Elite’s coaching staff is run by Kevin Ollie, who coached UConn to a national championship in 2014. The players are given personalized nutrition plans and training programs. They are marketed across Overtime’s social media network. (So far, sponsors include Gatorade and State Farm, which signed multiyear, eight-figure contracts with the league. Topps has a licensing deal.) And in the most obviously radical departure, each player gets a small share of the company and earns a salary of at least $100,000 annually, plus bonuses, depending on the contract he has negotiated. Jalen Lewis and some others make more than $500,000. (“There is a marketplace,” says Aaron Ryan, a former N.B.A. executive who has been hired as the league’s commissioner, “and players have varied value.”) In return, they have agreed to forgo their remaining years of high school and any chance of playing in college. That means no state titles or prom dates, no strolls on leafy campuses, no March Madness or Final Four. They also allow Overtime to use their names, images and likenesses, the same assets that college athletes have just earned the right to monetize for themselves, though the Overtime Elite players are permitted to strike their own deals with sponsors in noncompetitive categories.
To ease the transition to N.B.A. life, Overtime Elite requires its players to spend as much as 20 hours a week in an academic setting, a mash-up of online classes, face-to-face instruction and guest lectures. Players are taught how to give news conferences and use social media. They learn how agents and sponsors operate. They also take basketball-focused versions of conventional subjects, math and history and English, so they will have fulfilled the necessary requirements if they ever want to apply to college. If basketball doesn’t work out, Overtime Elite promises to pay $100,000 toward a degree to any player who wants to get one.
Storyline: Overtime Elite League
But if someone never reaches the N.B.A., will losing the opportunity to play in high school and college have been worth a few sure years of substantial income? When I put the question to Porter, he dismissed it. He described the connections made with Overtime Elite’s sponsors, investors and affiliated celebrities as yet another form of compensation, as if a shooting guard who turns out to be a step too slow could simply go to work for Drake instead. “We’re a family,” he insists. “We’re not going to forget about these guys.” If an Overtime Elite alum is struggling at some point in the future, Porter promised to volunteer his own services. “He can call me,” he says. “I’ll help him find a job.”
But here’s the best part — Porter and Weiner ended up raising a $2.5 million seed round in 2017, and former late NBA commissioner David Stern was their first investor. “This is a generation that doesn’t just want to read the news. They want to make and participate in it.” NBA Comissioner David Stern said at the time. Overtime ended up using the money to build a proprietary short-form programming content creation & distribution process. In simple terms, they paid a network of thousands of contributions to attend high school games, capture unique highlight-style content, and upload it remotely from their mobile device to a central database.
Storyline: Overtime Elite League