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March Madness star Luka Garza's NFT jumps past $8,000

Zack Guzman
·Senior Writer
·3 min read

Fresh off the March Madness high, Iowa University basketball star Luka Garza made history this week by becoming the first college athlete to offer a non fungible token, or NFT, for auction on Tuesday. 

With two days of bidding left to go for Garza's NFT, which also comes with a signed pair of game-worn shoes, a private meditation session with the John Wooden Award winner himself, and a lifetime pass to basketball camps hosted by Garza, the highest offer passed $8,000 on Wednesday. A portion of the proceeds will go to University of Iowa Children's Hospital, according to the Iowa economics senior who told Yahoo Finance the idea came from his father.        

"The cool thing about this one ... was it's more than just an image [card] it's a personal connection with whoever the person who wins the auction," Garza said about the auction that closes Friday. "When we get to that point, I'm excited to meet the person who won the auction and get to know them a little better."

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 6: Luke Garza #55 of the Iowa Hawkeyes scores a basket during the first half of a college basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Arena on December 6, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Garza scored a game high 44 points in the loss to the Michigan Wolverines 91-103.  (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 6: Luke Garza #55 of the Iowa Hawkeyes scores a basket during the first half of a college basketball game against the Michigan Wolverines at Crisler Arena on December 6, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Garza scored a game high 44 points in the loss to the Michigan Wolverines 91-103. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

Garza says he followed the model of NFL star Rob Gronkowski in choosing to offer his NFT on OpenSea, a leading platform for NFTs that has attracted listings from other well-known athletes. Unlike Gronkowski, however, Garza had to wait until he was finished with his season and NCAA eligibility before thinking about potentially making a profit from his auction. As the Supreme Court reviews rules around college athletes getting paid and until the NCAA rule change to allow college athletes to profit off their name and likeness comes into effect in August 2021, Garza's NFT is a unique test case for gauging market pricing of college stars. 

"With me doing the NFT, I think maybe in the future that this could be a possible avenue for college athletes," he said. "Hopefully I can pave the way and show an example of something like that, but I am definitely excited about the opportunity for future athletes going into college to be able to benefit off their name, image, and likeness."

Garza, who turned down entering the NBA draft last year to return to Iowa for his senior year, said it was the best decision he's ever made but also made the point that letting players get paid for their time in school should be seen as a win-win when it comes to changing the NCAA. 

"There's such a value in going to college and staying in college," Garza said in reference to athletes who skipped years of eligibility to make money as pros. "I think it would even incentivize bigger high school athletes to come to college and not try to skip it and that would help the NCAA and make the NCAA Tournament even more exciting."

Garza's NFT auction closes on OpenSea Friday afternoon.

Zack Guzman is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live as well as a senior writer covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, cryptocurrency, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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