Rivals.com was originally founded in 1998 by Jim Heckman in Seattle, Washington, with a cadre of outside investors. Heckman was once the son-in-law of Don James, the former head football coach at the University of Washington, where Heckman attended school and was later involved in a recruiting scandal. Initial deriving revenue solely from advertising, Rivals.com later employed a subscription fee of $10.00 per month to users for access to the latest recruiting news and to participate in various message boards dedicated to schools covered by the network. Rivals was funded by money from venture capital firms including the venture funds of Fox and Intel.
Rivals acquired AllianceSports, a regional network that primarily covered college sports in the Southeast of the United States, in January 2000. At its peak, Rivals.com employed close to 200 people, operated a network of 700 independent websites, filed for an initial public offering worth $100 million led by Goldman Sachs, and sponsored the Hula Bowl in Hawaii. However, economic troubles and the collapse of the dot-com "bubble" soon led the Rivals Network, the parent company of Rivals.com, to cease operations in 2001, though it never sought bankruptcy protection. Executives from AllianceSports purchased the Rivals.com assets and subsequently relaunched the website. Heckman, who had been fired as chief executive officer, later started a competitor network initially named The Insiders, later renamed Scout.com and sold to Fox Interactive Media in 2005 for a reported $60 million.
Led by former AllianceSports executive Shannon Terry, Rivals.com became profitable. On June 20, 2007, Yahoo! agreed to acquire Rivals.com. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but several sources reported Yahoo! paid around $100 million.
Rivals subscribers automatically have their subscription renewed for a term equal to the original term upon expiration of the then-current term, and continually thereafter, unless the Subscriber terminates the subscription by phone at least 48 hours prior to the renewal date.