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The 1890 Initiative receives $5 million gift from Nebraska Crossing earmarked for Husker volleyball

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos07/20/23

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Nebraska volleyball is the winningest program in NCAA history.

With five national championships and a head coach with more than 800 wins, it’s clear the Huskers have set the standard. Later this summer, 90,000 are expected to fill Memorial Stadium to watch Nebraska play Omaha. The event has been dubbed, “Volleyball Day in Nebraska.”

The Huskers are now in position to be successful in NIL, too.

The Nebraska-driven NIL collective The 1890 Initiative has signed a $5 million partnership over 10 years with the Nebraska Crossing outdoor lifestyle center, which is in Gretna, Nebraska, and JUSTDATA. It’s an unprecedented partnership in the NIL Era, which just turned three years old earlier this month.

Former Husker great Matt Davison partnered with Nebraska businessman Tom Peed and Shawn Peed to form The 1890 Initiative back in October. Davison told On3 the entire volleyball team are already clients of the collective, which was recently named one of On3’s top 20 most ambitious in the country.

“It’s a groundbreaking gift for the sport of volleyball,” Davison told On3. “This will help continue the success of Nebraska volleyball. Rod Yates is a former Husker that played in the 1980s. He owns the Nebraska crossing, and so I’ve had a good friendship with him. He’s the one that really drove this thing. So huge thank you to him. And this is going to set Nebraska volleyball up for years to come. Totally keep keep us near the top.”

Davison declined to go into the specifics of the agreement but was enthusiastic of what is to come. The 10-year agreement will put Nebraska volleyball in a competitive NIL advantage for the foreseeable future. Most collectives across the country have asked athletes to promote the organization and charitable partners as deliverables for deals.

Nebraska finished the 2022 season ranked No. 9 in the country after falling to Oregon in the Elite Eight. The Huskers are considered a preseason favorite for the national title, especially after adding the nation’s top recruit Harper Murray this summer.

Importance of Nebraska volleyball’s NIL donation

NIL collectives have surfaced at nearly every Division I school, with more than 200 across the country. It has given way to a wave of college sports focused on retaining and recruiting talent through NIL. This week at SEC Media Days, it was again reminded how prevalent that is in college football. It’s not only in one sport, though. Having a strong NIL program has become a recruiting pitch for programs in all Division I sports and volleyball is no different.

The $5 million gift earmarked exclusively for Nebraska volleyball is the biggest donation a collective has publicly received solely for women’s sports in the NIL Era. Collectives have raised millions for basketball and football, but none have announced funding over seven figures specifically for a female sports.

Team-wide NIL deals have picked up traction in women’s basketball, with the South Carolina and Texas Tech programs each participating in campaigns.

The 1890 Initiative plans to support all Nebraska sports

Matt Rhule held a camp earlier this month in Belton, Texas. The 1890 Initiative held a fundraising event the night earlier for Nebraska boosters in the Dallas area. They also have hosted booster events in Phoenix and Denver.

Whenever industry sources talk about the NIL landscape in the Big Ten, Nebraska is one of the first collectives brought up. The Peeds run Sandhills Global, a company that produces a diverse range of products and services from well-established trade publications and websites to hosted technology services. 

Athletic director Trev Alberts has not come out in support of the collective on NU’s official channels. The 1890 collective has made a public push, however, to get in front of fans. They have done TV commercials, radio ad and bill boards around the state. According to a source at Nebraska, more than 85 football players have signed with the collective.

Davison plans for 1890 to support the entire Husker athletic department in NIL ventures. Thursday’s announcement is only a sign of what is to come.

“We’re going to support all of our sports the best we can,” he said. “Right now we’re working with nine sports, and we’re going to do everything we can to help them help all the coaches and programs.”