LINCOLN — A decision made in Provo, Utah, prompts an inevitable question regarding Nebraska’s football program: Does any local business want to underwrite the full tuition for all the Husker walk-ons?
Taking advantage of the new NIL rules, a protein bar company in Provo named Built announced Thursday that it will pay the full tuition of 36 BYU walk-ons. That’s a good chunk of change. Roughly $6,000 per player, or $216,000 overall, if BYU tuition numbers listed on various websites are correct.
Built probably gets some good publicity out of the deal, and maybe a few BYU fans eat a Built bar instead of a Clif or KIND bar. But to some degree the deal may be a loss leader.
Would this work at Nebraska?
According to UNL’s website, in-state tuition is $7,770, and most NU walk-ons are from Nebraska. But the Huskers have almost twice as many walk-ons as BYU, so the price tag for a business would be closer to $500,000 if you wanted to cover all of them.
Is there a business willing to move that kind of freight? Year after year?
Because of how the state’s NIL laws are written, Nebraska’s administration and coaching staff can’t broker such deals for athletes. So either a businessperson comes up with it, or some outside agency helps broker that deal.
The state of Utah doesn’t have any NIL laws, so schools can essentially adopt their own policies.
That’s what made this BYU walk-on deal interesting. The announcement clearly took place inside BYU’s walls, with the protein bar guy wearing BYU gear. And though it would certainly seem to inch right up to the line of what’s appropriate for schools to do in the NIL era, perhaps there isn’t much of a line to begin with.