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The highly sought-after rookie trading card used to commemorate an athlete’s first year in professional sports. Soon, that real estate will also be occupied by college freshmen.
Fanatics Collectibles and Topps announced a line of college physical and digital trading cards with more than 100 colleges and universities nationwide. The deal will include both current college athletes and former college athletes playing in the NFL, NBA and MLB.
Already one of the biggest sports memorabilia retailers in the United States, Fanatics secured a multi-year deal for the exclusive rights to create official trading cards for more than 35 colleges. The deal includes college powerhouses Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Miami and Texas A&M.
Also, Topps will begin the design, manufacturing and distribution of trading cards for college football and basketball players at more than 100 additional schools, including Oklahoma, Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse. The agreements will begin as early as 2023.
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“Fanatics has been closely monitoring the ever-evolving NIL (name, image and likeness) 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.”
Topps also secured separate NIL deals for the trading card rights for nearly 200 athletes across college football and basketball. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Stetson Bennett of national champion Georgia, and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, the women’s basketball tournament’s most outstanding player, are among the players signed.
Fanatics acquired Topps trading card company in January. The move was forecast after Fanatics secured the exclusive rights to produce cards for Major League Baseball and MLB Players’ Association from Topps, which had produced baseball trading cards since the 1950s. Fanatics now holds trading card rights for the MLB, NFL and NBA in addition to the new college deal.