Headline Sports Business

2nd Annual TBT Announces Partnership With ESPN And Field Expansion For 2015 Event

Building on the success from their inaugural tournament in 2014, The Basketball Tournament (TBT) has announced its plans to expand the field for the single-elimination, winner-take-all, open-application event. Last year’s tournament included only 32 teams and was hosted by Philadelphia University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This year’s tournament will consist of 96 teams and the 2014 TBT Champions (‘Notre Dame Fighting Alumni’) who will receive an automatic birth into the Round of 16. The first three rounds of the tournament will be held in four separate regions (Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia) with the top four teams from each region advancing to the Round of 16 in Chicago, Illinois.

“On August 2nd, two teams will play a winner-take-all game of basketball for $1 million on national broadcast television for the first time, and the door is wide open for anyone out there to create a team and play for it,” said Jonathan Mugar, Founder of The Basketball Tournament. “Last year we were able to prove the concept of a high stakes, democratic tournament, with an exceptionally skilled collection of players and an entertaining event. Our partnership with ESPN, along with our market expansion, further validates that we are on the track to grow even beyond what we had hoped for in year two.” Ed Erhardt, President of ESPN Global Customer Marketing and Sales, said, “we are proud to partner with [TBT] this summer. We think this is a unique program and a great opportunity for our ESPN fans”.

Application Process

TBT is free to enter. The application period will run from April 1st through June 1st. The only way for Teams to qualify is to organize themselves on the tournament’s website ( and recruit a minimum of 100 fans who will vote for their team’s entry into the field of 96.

To be considered for entry a team must have a General Manager, at least 7 players, and 100 fan votes. GMs will be responsible for organizing their team and creating the team’s profile on where they will receive fan votes. Fan voting will run until the June 1st application deadline.

Who Can Play? 

The tournament is open to anyone 18 or older. Talent level ranges from current and former professional players, recent college graduates, local playground legends, and pickup basketball stars. TBT Executives believe there may be more university sponsored teams copying the Notre Dame blueprint and sending a combination of alums to the 2015 tournament. TBT General Counsel of Content and Team Relationships, Dan Friel, will be helping to answer questions that universities and colleges may have regarding this event. Dan may be contacted by e-mail at [email protected].

The 2014 Champions, Notre Dame Fighting Alumni, included the likes of former All Big East players Torin Francis, Chris Thomas, and Russell Carter. In the championship game they defeated Team Barstool which was led by former Duke University standout and current L.A. Clipper, Dahntay Jones.

Other notable players from the 2014 tournament included: Josh Selby (Kansas), Marshall Henderson (Ole Miss), Hakim Warrick (Syracuse), Smush Parker (Fordham), Josh Boone (UConn), Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Chris “Top Flight” Wright (Dayton), Rob Kurz (Notre Dame), and Aquille Carr (Seton Hall).

Tournament Schedule

  • July 10-12: Opening Rounds of the Atlanta and Los Angeles Regional
  • July 17-19: Opening Rounds of the Chicago and Philadelphia Regional
  • July 23: ‘Super 17’ game will be played between the ‘Notre Dame Fighting Alumni’ and the lowest seed from the Chicago Regional. This game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
  • July 24-25: Round of 16 begins in Chicago. The four quarterfinal games scheduled for Saturday, July 25 will all be broadcast live on ESPNU.
  • August 1: The four teams making it out of the Round of 16 will advance to the semifinals which will be played in New York City. Both semifinal games will be broadcast live on ESPN’s main network.
  • August 2: The two finalists will play in a winner-take-all, $1 Million Championship Game at 3pm ET in NYC and broadcast live on ESPN.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

In just its second year, this annual event is truly a blank canvas with unlimited possibilities for individuals looking to make their mark in sports business. TBT activities provide the platform for young professionals to showcase their talents in everything from marketing to team management to team organization to content creation and fundraising. This event has more than doubled in size since last year and its geographical reach has quadrupled. ESPN’s broadcast of this tournament will ensure that the talent involved with making this a successful event will be showcased nationwide.