New Era of Deals for College Players Means Business Considerations, Like Taxes

In some ways, they are having a professional experience.

“It’s been a learning experience,” said Mitch Lightfoot, a sixth-year player at Kansas, who despite his reserve role has managed to land endorsement deals with a water bottle company and a fast-food outlet in Lawrence, Kan. “And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to look so much different at this time next year.”

Players at the men’s and women’s Final Four, already in programs that garner a lot of attention, have gained an even bigger platform during the end of the tournaments.

Women’s players may stand to attract even more lucrative opportunities.

As a gender equity report that examined the men’s and women’s tournaments noted, Paige Bueckers, the Connecticut star, had more Instagram followers last year than the combined starting lineups of the men’s Final Four teams. She became the first college athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Gatorade.

Aliyah Boston, the South Carolina star who succeeded Bueckers as the Naismith Player of the Year, formed a limited liability company more than a year ago, in anticipation of being able to earn money off her stature as a basketball player. She has also hired a marketing agent.

Boston has two significant deals, with a salon and a restaurant chain, but expects others next year. “I’ll speak it into existence,” said her mother, Cleone.

Cleone Boston said she and her husband, Al, had long preached to their daughters the importance of being wise with money. When Aliyah Boston and her older sister, Alexis, were in elementary school, their mother stopped the car and turned around to talk to them when she saw a nice car, an Infiniti, parked in a space that was marked ‘tenants only’ in front of an apartment building.

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