Whatever your opinion or assessment is about Nebraska’s current NIL situation and operation, there will need to be improvements – constant improvements – if the Huskers are going to rise back toward the top of the Big Ten and the national level of college football.
Huskers AD Trev Alberts channeled his inner Ricky Bobby (played by Will Ferrell) from the movie Talladega Nights on Monday night when discussing Nebraska’s NIL strategies and infrastructure:
“We’ll keep working on it,” Alberts said on the Huskers Radio Network on Monday night. “I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: We’re never gonna be first, but we’re never gonna be last.”
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The most major, notable change in the Huskers’ NIL involvement came on May 2 when they announced the hiring of Jonathan Bateman, the program’s first-ever in-house director of NIL.
Bateman, most recently the Huskers’ associate director of compliance and who has been with Nebraska since 2011, is managing the day-to-day NIL operations and is serving as the primary liaison for all NIL and governance operations. His hiring made Nebraska one of just a small group of athletic departments nationwide to have a position dedicated solely to NIL and governance.
His hiring, Alberts said, was a necessary and impactful move that was long overdue.
“I’ll tell you: I probably should’ve done this six months ago,” Alberts said of hiring Bateman as the NIL director. “You think about, well, six months isn’t very long, but the amount of change in six months is crazy. I just got a two-page document from Jonathan with an update on all the legal ramifications, all the advancements of where all these proceedings are going, what all the likely outcomes are going to be. … We have a dedicated person now that’s looking at everything from what other schools are doing, what our state law looks like, should we amend the state law.
“So making recommendations about how we best position not only ourselves but our collectives, our student-athletes to be successful. Because this is a highly evolving space, and we need to be a leader in it.”
The NCAA has continued to let the world of NIL run amok with no federal rules, regulations or guidelines. Instead, each state continues to operate under its own NIL laws and regulations, which has been one of the biggest factors (in addition to the transfer portal) in college football being labeled with the oft-used term Wild, Wild West.
“I think the thing that fans hold near and dear is this idea of competitive equity. We’ve always known that in competition, from time to time, there will be those that will try to break the rules, bend the rules, try to cheat or flat-out cheat,” Alberts said. “But this is a particularly challenging one because right now state laws are setting the tone about what universities can and can’t do, what’s available, until there’s a federal solution around it. And that’s what we talked about with Governor Baker (former Massachusetts governor and current NCAA president Charlie Baker) today is what’s the confidence level that we can bring some sort of guardrails?
“Because it really isn’t fair if we don’t have some national set, and agreed upon, (rules) and just consistency in contracts across the board would be really valuable. So there’s a lot of strong effort in this area. But, again, there’s areas that I’m confident in our approach, but we’re gonna be aggressive in this space.”
Despite the issues at play, Alberts believes things are trending upward in Lincoln.
“I think we have a good strategy in the NIL space,” Alberts said. “Really grateful for all of those who support us – the donors, our NIL collectives that support us. It’s important, to me, obviously you have to be focused on all of those types of things that the university holds near and dear, but at the same time doing everything that we can for our student-athletes and coaches to make sure we have a reasonable chance to be competitively successful.”
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