Texas A&M likely to back out of 2024 game against Texas Tech basketball team

The Texas Tech basketball team's November 29th game with Texas A&M looks to be in jeopardy thanks to a new in-season N.I.L. tournament that the Aggies are reportedly set to play in.
Texas v Texas Tech
Texas v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Money has always been the name of the game in college athletics. That's especially true in the modern era of the sport when N.I.L. payments are driving up the cost of fielding a competitive team. Now, it appears that the pursuit of revenue is going to rob the Texas Tech basketball program of a marquee non-conference game in 2024.

It is being reported that there will be a new in-season tournament next season in Las Vegas that will pay teams $1 million toward their N.I.L. collective to participate and will pay the winning team another $1 million. The event will reportedly be named the "Players Era Festival".

The problem for the Texas Tech basketball program is two-fold. First, this event is scheduled to be played the week of Thanksgiving with the final games played on November 29.

The second problem is that Texas Tech already has a game scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving against Texas A&M. Unfortunately, it is being reported that the Aggies have agreed to take place in this new tournament meaning the game with Texas Tech in Lubbock is likely to be called off or moved.

Of course, the Texas Tech athletic department was using the game with the Aggies as part of a special Thanksgiving weekend that would also include a home game with West Virginia on Saturday, the 30th. That was going to be arguably the marquee sports weekend of the 2024-25 school calendar.

Now, it is fair to wonder if the Red Raiders will try to find another opponent of intrigue to fill that date should the Aggies officially back out. It would also be interesting to see if the home-and-home series with A&M would be scrapped altogether or if the two programs would work to find another date for the Aggies to come to Lubbock this upcoming season.

Regardless of what happens with the potential Texas A&M game, Texas Tech needs to improve its non-conference scheduling in basketball. Last season, the RPI for Texas Tech's out-of-conference schedule was 339th in the nation.

The only teams of intrigue that Tech faced outside of Big 12 play in 2023-24 were Villanova and Butler. However, those teams finished with NET rankings of just 41 and 68 respectively in the final ranking.

One other factor hurting Tech's potential non-conference strength of schedule this coming season is the terrible opponent coming to Lubbock as part of the Big 12 / Big East Challenge, DePaul. Last season, the Blue Demons were just 3-29 overall and 0-20 in Big East play. Their final NET ranking was just 320th. Rather than getting a strong opponent in that event, Tech will have to play one of the worst programs in the nation.

It will be disappointing when this Texas A&M game is moved or canceled, but the opportunity to play for $2 million is more than any team can pass up, especially in the current landscape of college athletics where money is more important than ever.

"If there are events where there's an extraordinary amount of money involved, and there's no donor fatigue involved in this, how do you not play in this?" one coach participating in the Players Era Festival told CBS Sports. "There's not a decision we make that's not NIL-driven. I'll play in the parking lot of Mandalay Bay, just clear the f---ing check."

It appears that a check is going to keep Texas Tech from having what would have been a special weekend in late November. It's a stark reminder of how money is changing the college sports world like never before.