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Fanatics Collectibles, a dedicated subsidiary of the sports merchandise giant, is launching a new range of physical and digital Topps trading cards covering more than 100 US college athletic departments.

These deals include co-branded trading cards, featuring current college athletes and alumni who moved on to the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

Fanatics, which acquired Topps earlier this year for US$500 million, has signed multi-year exclusive rights agreements with more than 35 colleges, allowing the firm to produce official trading cards that combine university trademarks with an athlete’s name, image and likeness (NIL). These institutions include division one programmes such as Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Oregon, Kentucky, Penn State and Texas A&M.

From 2023 the partnerships, which when non-exclusive agreements for just current athletes are factored in, total more than 100.

In addition, Topps has signed individual NIL trading card deals with almost 200 college athletes, including Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young and women’s college basketball stars such as South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston. These college trading cards will be released under the company’s BowmanU brand this Autumn.

“Fanatics has been closely monitoring the ever-evolving NIL landscape, and we felt this was the perfect time to launch multiple, strategic college trading card programs that will allow schools and current student-athletes to create new levels of direct engagement with fans across hundreds of the top programs nationwide,” said Derek Eiler, executive vice president of Fanatics College.

“There are tremendous opportunities for this untapped area of the hobby and to expand further across the collegiate sports landscape.”

Dave Leiner, global vice president and general manager of Topps, added: “This collection is the first offering of officially licensed collegiate cards featuring current athlete NIL rights. We’re thrilled at the opportunity to launch these comprehensive programs that combine premier student-athletes and elite institutions to create a best-in-class collegiate trading card product for fans and collectors.”