Fanatics Collectibles is harnessing the power of the NIL era to introduce college trading cards featuring top student-athletes — as well as former stars who have graduated to the pros.
On Thursday, Fanatics Collectibles and its iconic Topps brand announced a breakthrough program that promises to energize the trading card hobby. As soon as 2023, Topps will release its first collections of college trading cards featuring top NCAA student-athletes.
More than 35 schools, including a majority of the Power 5, have engaged in exclusive, multi-year agreements to produce student-athlete cards with Topps that leverage both team names and marks and the athlete’s name, image, and likeness rights — including former stars who have moved on to play in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. These pacts are set to go into effect between next year and 2025.
Additionally, Topps has non-exclusive deals going into effect this year with over 100 colleges and universities for college trading cards featuring current football and basketball stars.
As Derek Eiler, Executive Vice President of Fanatics College, said of the news:
“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. There are tremendous opportunities for this untapped area of the hobby and to expand further across the collegiate sports landscape.”
To bolster the new program further, Topps has trading card rights deals with what it describes as “nearly 200” student-athletes across college football and men’s and women’s basketball for its BowmanU brand, including:
- Alabama QB Bryce Young, 2021 Heisman Trophy Winner
- Georgia QB Stetson Bennett, 2022 College Football Playoff national champion
- USC QB Caleb Williams
- Oregon QB Bo Nix
- South Carolina women’s basketball PF/C Aliyah Boston, 2022 national champion and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
- Duke men’s basketball C Dereck Lively II
- Arkansas men’s basketball PG/SG Nick Smith Jr.
“I’m so excited to team up with Fanatics and Topps on this new trading card partnership, which will allow me to create an even deeper level of engagement with fans and collectors everywhere,” Caleb Williams said on the occasion.
Added Topps Global Vice President and General Manager Dave Leiner:
“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.”
Selected Exclusive Fanatics Collectibles x Topps Trading Card Partners
These lists are non-exhaustive — stay tuned for more official announcements regarding BowmanU college trading cards.
Beginning as early as 2023
Beginning in 2025
Alabama Crimson Tide
Florida State Seminoles
Penn State Nittany Lions
Texas A&M Aggies