dsdsBy Barry Janoff
June 9, 2022: In what was called “tremendous opportunities for an untapped area of the hobby and to expand further across the collegiate sports landscape,” Fanatics Collectibles, the trading cards and collectibles division of Fanatics, and its Topps sports trading card brand today unveiled “broad-scale college physical and digital trading cards deals with more than 100 of the top universities nationwide.”
Topps said it would initially being working with more than 35 institutions and a majority of the Power 5 Conference schools.
These agreements will include both exclusive and non-exclusive co-branded trading card products, “incorporating official university trademarks and featuring current student-athletes and former athletes playing in the NFL, NBA, and MLB.”
The agreements will take effect between 2023 and 2025.
As part of an expanded offering, Topps said it has separately secured NIL trading cards rights with nearly 200 student athletes across college football and basketball.
Among others, adidas recently unveiled a NIL plan that the company said would encompass 100 schools and 50,000 athletes.
And NBC Sports has launched a student-athlete NIL division.
“Fanatics has been closely monitoring the ever-evolving NIL landscape,” Derek Eiler, evp-Fanatics College, said via the company.
“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,”
Universities part of the initial NIL program include Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon, Penn State and Texas A&M.
Working with them, Topps said it would “create official trading cards products combining official university trademarks with name, image, and likeness rights from both current student-athletes and former players.”
Later this year, Topps will begin what it called a “scaled, non-exclusive program to design, manufacture and distribute trading cards showcasing current college football and basketball student-athletes” for the aforementioned schools and more than 100 additional institutions, including Oklahoma, Duke, North Carolina, Iowa and Syracuse.
Among the Topps NIL trading cards rights with student-athletes across college football and basketball are 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young (Alabama), CFP National Champion winning QB Stetson Bennett (Georgia), Bo Nix (Oregon), Caleb Williams (USC) and incoming men’s basketball players Dereck Lively II (Duke) and Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas).
Topps said it has also signed several premier women’s college basketball stars, including the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball National Champion and Tournament Most Outstanding Player Aliyah Boston (South Carolina).
These trading cards will be released under Topps’ BowmanU brand beginning this fall.
“This collection is the first offering of officially licensed collegiate cards featuring current athlete NIL rights,” Dave Leiner, Topps global vp and GM, said via the brand.
“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.”