NORTH PLATTE — In the coming weeks, a seismic shift is likely coming to college athletics.
Athletes this summer are headed toward being able to profit off their own name, image and likeness. There is still much to sort out — namely, whether the United States Congress will enact the type of sweeping federal legislation that the NCAA would like or whether rules will differ state to state — but many states have laws that are passed and go into force on July 1.
Speaking at an event on the Big Red Blitz tour Wednesday morning, Nebraska football coach Scott Frost pointed out the number of No. 7 jerseys in the crowd and, even though at least one had his name on the back, used the other famous No. 7 in Husker history as an example of what, in his estimation, will be the benefit of players being able to make money from their own likeness.
"For a lot of years, the school made a lot of money selling No. 7 jerseys and Eric Crouch only got a scholarship to the University of Nebraska," Frost told an audience of around 100 here. "Part of that I like because there's a beauty and a purity to college athletics and amateur athletics, but somebody like Eric probably gets exploited a little bit."
Frost reiterated what Nebraska has been saying for more than a year, since it first outlined its approach to preparing for the NIL era last spring, that Nebraska is going to embrace the change and help its athletes maximize earning potential.
"I think at Nebraska we'll be able to capitalize on it as well or better than anybody in the country because we have fans like you guys, we have businesses that are going to want to use our guys to collaborate and in advertising. There are going to be a lot of opportunities for our guys."
Frost, though, also said he thought that his general concerns for the coming months and years surround the move happening at the same time as the one-time free transfer rule is enacted across college sports.
"We're just scratching the surface," Frost said. "To be honest, (the transfer rule) is going to be just like NIL. They're going to combine together to create a really difficult landscape. If a kid's not happy … he can leave and go somewhere else. With NIL, we're scared that if a kid is making a certain amount of money somewhere and they can make more money off of it somewhere else, they'll go to that place. There's going to be undercover recruiting and tampering going on.
"Smaller schools could end up being feeder schools to big schools. Again, it's a landscape we don't have any control over, where it's going, but it's going there. We have to do the best we can."
Frost overall, though, thinks NIL can benefit Nebraska.
"We're unique because we have so much interest," Frost said. "Other places I've been, even at Oregon when I was there, people really paid attention to football during football season, but outside of football season there wasn't that much interest."
One way or another, though, it's a period of major upheaval in college football. The transfer rule is already in place and the front line of the NIL changes are right behind.
"It's new for all of us and we're working our way through it," Frost said. "Times are changing."