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Huskers name 1890 Nebraska official NIL collective

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos07/08/24


Nearly a year ago, former Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts danced around why he hadn’t backed the 1890 Initiative.

The leading NIL collective for Nebraska athletics, Alberts was not ready to go all-in on the organization. Meanwhile, football coach Matt Rhule had attended multiple booster events in major cities.

“We’ve done a lot,” Alberts told On3 at Big Ten Media Days. “I go to their events and speak and thank them. I’m grateful for 1890. … But we’re very, very supportive of – there’s multiple folks, not just 1890.

With a new athletic director in Troy Dannen and a state law allowing institutions to enter into an agreement with a third party and support NIL activities, Nebraska announced Monday that 1890 is now the official NIL collective for the Huskers. The collective has been rebranded as 1890 Nebraska.

Included in the partnership, donations made to 1890 will be eligible for Huskers Athletic Fund priority points and can be included in calculating Huskers Athletic Fund membership levels. Contributions are also tax deductible eligible when directed to the 1890 Foundation and priority points are declined.

All donations are allocated to athletes. Boosters can also direct dollars to a specific Nebraska athletic program. Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen officially signed Legislature Bill 1393 into law in June.

“Nebraska has always been an innovator in collegiate athletics, whether it is in strength and conditioning, nutrition, and athletics performance facilities, and NIL is the latest frontier,” Dannen said in a statement. “This partnership with 1890 Nebraska will make it convenient for fans and donors to directly support NIL for our student-athletes and provide 1890 donors many of the same benefits and privileges that our Huskers Athletic Fund members receive for their support of Nebraska athletics.”

1890 Nebraska finds success in football, volleyball

Nebraska’s NIL market has evolved in the last three years. Athlete Branding & Marketing rolled out the collective N100 in April 2022, announcing it had secured gross payments of more than $850,000 to more than 90 student-athletes across five sports. Run by former Husker football chief of staff Gerrod Lambrecht, ABM was folded into The 1890 Initiative in October 2022.  

Run by former Husker receiver Matt Davison, the collective has public support from Nebraska businessmen Tom Peed and Shawn Peed. Whenever industry sources talk about the NIL landscape in the Big Ten, Nebraska is one of the first collectives brought up.

“We are excited to partner with the University of Nebraska as the official NIL collective of Nebraska athletics,” 1890 Nebraska CEO Carson Schott said. “For the past couple of years, our ongoing work with the university has supported student-athletes and coaches, helping to recruit and retain top talent. This deepened commitment to a united front will enhance our efforts further and take our support to the next level.”

Football has been a key focus for 1890. But the collective is working with every major sport at Nebraska. The collective has exclusive agreements with roughly 100 football players and more than 20 volleyball and men’s basketball athletes. Last summer, the collective signed a $5 million partnership earmarked for Husker volleyball over 10 years with the Nebraska Crossing outdoor lifestyle center, which is in Gretna, Nebraska, and JUSTDATA

Nebraska not first collective to tap into priority points

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2804 in June 2023. The revised NIL legislation provides cover for state schools from being punished by the NCAA for any NIL activity. Collectives at Texas and Texas A&M moved to allow boosters to earn priority points for donations but have since walked back those measures.

Boosters receiving priority points in exchange for dollars is one way for collectives to combat donor fatigue.

But with the schools preparing for the impact of the multibillion-dollar House settlement, some collectives will be moving in-house while others will become even more imperative to create an advantage. Schools will have the opportunity to opt-in to a revenue-sharing agreement, with the option to share roughly $20 to $22 million per year with players.

Of the $2.77 billion expected to be paid in back damages to former athletes as part of the House settlement, the NCAA is expected to be responsible for 40% of the payout. The other 60% will come from a reduction in school distributions.

The top-spending NIL collectives have annual budgets of more than $15 million annually. The support of Dannen and the athletic department sets 1890 Nebraska up to continue raising dollars in the next era of college sports.