As Caitlin Clark prepares for Iowa’s trip to the Sweet 16 this week, several sideshow promoters have thrown their hats into the ring as her future employer. On the surface, these offers are historic, but they will likely prove to be fodder for sports talk shows and little else.

The renewed frenzy kicked off Wednesday when it was reported that BIG3, a three-on-three basketball league owned by rapper and producer Ice Cube, offered Clark $5 million to play, delaying her WNBA debut. She would be the first woman to join the league, which typically attracts retired NBA players and other celebrities.

“We intended the offer to remain private while Caitlin Clark plays for the championship,” Ice Cube said on X. “But I won’t deny what’s now already out there: BIG3 made a historic offer to Caitlin Clark. Why wouldn’t we?” he wrote. “Caitlin is a generational athlete who can achieve tremendous success in the BIG3.”

The musical artist went on to point out BIG3’s forward-thinking history, as the league was one of the first to hire female coaches, including retired stars Nancy Lieberman and Lisa Leslie.

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“The skeptics laughed when we made Nancy Lieberman the first female coach of a men’s pro team, and she won the championship in her first year,” Ice Cube said. “Then Lisa Leslie won it all in year two. With our offer, Caitlin Clark can make history and break down even more barriers for women athletes.”

Several hours after the BIG3 news broke, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy made his own post on social media with a competing offer.

“I’ll offer Caitlin Clark 10 million to play on our intramural hoops team,” Portnoy said on X.

It is unclear if Portnoy is joking about signing Clark, as he has become famous for both his elaborate antics and outlandish publicity stunts. Regardless, his post further fanned the flames of an intense debate about Clark’s future prospects.

Though she’s still in college at Iowa, Clark is reportedly earning $3.1 million in NIL money this season. Her endorsement earnings will only grow as she becomes a professional player. The fact remains, however, that if Clark joined BIG3 or Barstool Sports, she would earn significantly more money as a player than she ever would in the WNBA.

Even in extreme cases, very few women’s basketball players make more than $200,000 every year in the WNBA. The average salary in 2023 was reportedly around $147,000, a significant increase from previous years.

Clark is unlikely to accept a salary on a team against men, regardless of the money or caliber of competition. Her impending journey to the WNBA will make this year’s draft the most significant in the league’s history and can raise the entire sport to new heights. Clark is already financially secure through other channels, so it is more than likely that she will join the WNBA for the exposure and impact she can generate.

When generational talents come along in any sport, there are always distractions. Countless organizations and individuals stand to benefit simply by being mentioned in the same breath as Clark at the moment, which will lead to all sorts of silly stories that seem to put her future in question. Without the background noise, however, it holds true that Clark is currently on a mission to win a national championship with the Hawkeyes before her star ascends to the WNBA Draft in April.

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