If you had looked at the website of Overtime Elite, a new basketball league targeting prep players that wish to skip college basketball and go directly into the pros, anytime prior to Sept. 9, it appeared that the University of Pittsburgh had partnered directly with the league to offer academic opportunities for the league’s players.
But after a Pittsburgh Sports Now investigation, it appears that relationship was somewhat overstated.
But first, what is Overtime Elite?
The story starts back in 2016, when Overtime was founded as a social media platform for sports highlights that quickly grew into an online powerhouse. After the brand blew up into a multi-million dollar business, Overtime sponsored a camp for prospects. Shortly after, the company decided to start OTE.
The league targets highly-touted high-school prospects of any age, most of which are four and five star players. Once the players sign with the league, they will not be able to participate in NCAA athletics. However, if the players do not end up going pro after their contract expires with OTE, the league pledges to pay them each $100,000 to go towards tuition if they do decide to pursue a degree somewhere. After a full summer of recruiting, OTE has now finally signed its inaugural 24-player class to deals of up to $650,000 per year.
So where does Pitt come into play?
Since the league is targeting players that would be missing out on a college scholarship by accepting the offer to play in the league, it touted an academic benefit for players that sign.
“Athletes who are interested in earning college credit during their time at OTE will have the opportunity to enroll in up to 12 units each year through our partnership with Xceed Prep, The University of Pittsburgh, and Outlier.org,” the league stated on its website. “Dual enrollment courses begin every two weeks, which allows athletes to sign up for a course at any time throughout the year. The flexible format ensures that students can manage their high school and college assignments seamlessly.”
With this so-called partnership, would the league’s athletes be able to play in the OTE, make six-figure deals, and earn college credits through the University of Pittsburgh? Does Pitt have a direct partnership with OTE?
“The partnership opportunity is due to our partnership with Xceed Prep,” OTE head of academics Maisha Riddlesprigger told PSN.
So, OTE does not have a direct partnership or agreement with the University itself? Is it just linked to Xceed?
“Xceed students will take their courses through the University of Pittsburgh’s partnership with Outlier.org, which was just named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2020,” states the company’s website. “Outlier.org is an online education platform working to increase access to quality college education for all and reduce student debt. The virtual learning platform features immersive courses, cinema-quality video and interactive exercises that are just as effective as in-person classes.”
So what does all of this all mean? Will OTE players be enrolled in Pitt courses? Will the players be able to use campus facilities?
“Xceed is the educational provider for Overtime Elite,” Xceed CEO Brent Goldman told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “A few of our Overtime Elite students will be taking dual enrollment courses with Outlier. Overtime Elite doesn’t have any relationship with the University of Pittsburgh or its basketball program. Overtime Elite students are professional basketball players and are not eligible to compete in NCAA college basketball.”
PSN first contacted Overtime Elite and Xceed on Sept. 3. Fast forward to Thursday, Sept. 9, and Overtime Elite has now changed its stance on the “partnership” with Pitt.
In that very same “Dual Enrollment Opportunities” section of the site, it now reads:
“Athletes who are interested in earning college credit during their time at OTE will have the opportunity to enroll in up to 12 units each year through our partnership with Xceed Prep which offers dual enrollment through the University of Pittsburgh and Outlier.org.”
No longer does OTE state that it has a partnership with Pitt.
“Our relationship is with Outlier,” Xceed CEO Goldman told PSN after the website changed its statement on Sept. 9. “Outlier’s relationship is with Pitt. OTE made changes to their website to clarify that their partnership is with us and not Pitt.”
So while Pitt and OTE do not have a direct partnership, there is still a small sliver of connections that is linking the two. But since Outlier is a virtual learning experience, don’t expect to see the Overtime Elite stars on Pitt’s campus any time soon.