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IU basketball players will cash in from new Hoosier Fan Fest event

Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis poses during IU's Media Day.

(Pat Beane/WTIU)

Fans will have a chance to get up close and personal with the Indiana men’s basketball team, and they can thank the NCAA’s new Name, Image and Likeness rules. 

The inaugural Hoosier Basketball Fan Fest is set for Saturday, Nov. 6, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. But unlike Hoosier Hysteria, the Fan Fest will cost more than a canned good to get in. 

However, attendees will get a more intimate experience.  

Players will sign autographs, pose for pictures and be on court to interact with fans. They’ll also play in 5-on-5 scrimmages and take part in 3-point shooting and slam dunk contests. 

And, thanks to the NIL rules, the players will be able to cash in on the event. 

The Fan Fest is the brainchild of Hoosier Hysterics NIL Collective founders Eric Pankowski and Ward Roberts, two IU grads who host the Hoosier Hysterics podcast. 

“We really wanted to look for an event to do in Bloomington that could benefit three things,” Pankowski said. “The first, obviously, is the players. And we have this opportunity to do events that would directly impact the NIL fortunes of the men’s and women’s basketball players. 

“The second thing we wanted to do was impact the fans. We wanted to figure out a way of how can we give the fans the experience and still benefit the players? 

“And the third was how do we benefit the community.” 

Fans can also bid in an online auction at hoosierfanfest.com to be an honorary coach, compete in a free throw shooting contest with players, rebound during shoot arounds, throw alley-oop passes during the dunk contest and compete in a dance contest. 

READ MORE: IU Athletics Prepares For Changes To Name, Image, Likeness Rules In College Sports

“All the money that is pooled together from corporate sponsorship, from ticket sales and from auction sales will go into a pot that is split up amongst the players,” Pankowski said. 

He said the Bloomington Boys and Girls Club will also benefit from the earnings. 

“The goal is that every player will be guaranteed a certain amount, that is a good amount,” Pankowski said. 

How the money is divvied up between the players is still being worked out, but Pankowski said for events such as this, it would be natural for the more marketable players to earn more than those at the end of the bench.  

After all, that’s what happens every day in the real world. 

“It’s part of bringing the free market to the college athletics,” Pankowski said. “These young men and women are going to have to learn how to deal with the realities of a free market, which are some people make more money.” 

For junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, arguably the face of the Hoosier programs, being able to capitalize on being a college athlete is a long time coming. 

“I think it’s long overdue, especially for the other athletes that didn’t get the opportunity before me,” Jackson-Davis said at the team’s Media Day. “But at the same time, me and my teammates are going to take advantage of it, especially at this pristine university and with the knowledge, especially with basketball, and how far it goes back.” 

As an IU grad and basketball fan, Pankowski said one of the reasons he’s helping put on events such as this is to promote the university. 

“Events like this are our attempt to say to prospective athletes out there, look what we can do with Indiana, look what’s waiting for you if you come to Indiana,” he said.  

The university has no role in the event other than renting out Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, which it does for other third-party events. 

The women’s team won’t participate in the fan fest but will host a basketball camp for 6-to-14-year-olds earlier the same day at Assembly Hall for which they will be compensated, too. 

Members of the women’s team will conduct drills, give instruction and have a team dinner with camp attendees. 

Pankowski hopes to make the fan fest and camp an annual event. 

“We all know the realities of COVID where fans weren’t even allowed in the building,” he said. “We’re creating this event to really give fan interaction at a level that is special and unique.”  

Tickets for the event go on sale Friday. Ticket prices have not been announced. 

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