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College Bass National Championships: What A Catch!

College Bass
College Bass

If you think that every college national championship has been settled by now, think again.

Right now, I’m focused on the College Bass National Championships that are taking place in Little Rock, Ark., as we speak.

It’s not sanctioned by the NCAA, which is just fine for the competitors on the 53 teams. That’s because these guys are making some good money pulling in sponsorships.

I just couldn’t believe how many logos, aside from their school logos of course, these guys had on their shirts as they stepped up to the first round of the live weigh-in yesterday. (Yes, I was watching live on the streaming video page on the Web site.)

The two fisherman from the University of Alabama--who led after the first round with a catch totaling 12 pounds, two ounces-–had at least 12 logos on them.

The money is probably more in sponsorships than prize money at this point – the top five schools here will only divide $5,000 in scholarship money, but that doesn’t mean the money isn’t going to come in soon.

After Day 1, the Alabama Crimson Tide had the lead.
After Day 1, the Alabama Crimson Tide had the lead.

Under Armour , which sells a lot of hunting and fishing gear, sponsors this championship.

“A tournament like this is so authentic and so unique that once people see it, they immediately fall in love with it,” said Steve Battista, Under Armour’s senior vice president of brand. “We get more comments about this sponsorship than some of our larger initiatives.”

And there’s momentum in the college bass world. Last month, the TV network VERSUS announced plans for the new Association of Collegiate Anglers Bass Fishing Series (CBFS). The network plans to air 13 half-hour shows on weekday mornings beginning in July 2009. That series will have another championship, with the five top teams splitting $35,000 in prize money.

The tournament is on Lake Maumelle in Little Rock, Ark.
The tournament is on Lake Maumelle in Little Rock, Ark.

I don’t know where you will be at 4:30 pm ET today, but I’ll be in front of my computer watching the live weigh-in. After today, there will be a cut down and the finalists with fish in a mystery lake tomorrow for the national championship.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com