Troy Dannen predicts athletes will be paid by school in near future

On3 imageby:Dan Morrison03/27/24


HuskerOnline chats Nebraska AD Troy Dannen's introductory press conference & start of spring ball

Incoming Nebraska Cornhuskers athletic director Troy Dannen knows that the landscape of college sports is rapidly changing. Those are changes that he doesn’t expect to slow down anytime soon as Dannen predicted that athletes are actually going to be paid by the school in the near future.

The question came up in Dannen’s introductory press conference at Nebraska when he was asked about coming into a department without debt. It’s a very rare thing in college athletics that Dannen explained is going to give the department flexibility in an uncertain future.

“I would say it’s probably unheard of,” Troy Dannen said. “If you go through most athletic budgets there is a pretty good, sizable, eight-figure debt service line for most of them. What’s been done here for years and years and years is really remarkable. It’s a great credit to a lot of people. I’d say credit to the ADs, but credit to the fanbase, a credit to the administration, a credit to everybody who is a part of letting this happen without debt.”

Prior to coming to Nebraska, Troy Dannen held the same role at Washington, Tulane, and Northern Iowa. He’s seen plenty of athletic departments and several different levels of Division I athletics.

“The advantage of that today is the uncertainty and unpredictability of what lies ahead for us. That is one burden that we will not carry into that future. So, I would say it allows you to be a little more nimble. It allows you to be a little more quickly able to adapt to what comes.”

At that point, Troy Dannen explained that being debt-free is so important to Nebraska because he believes that the school is going to need to pay players moving forward.

“The one thing that’s absolute that’s going to happen, there will be a line item in our budget for student-athletes at some point in time. I don’t know what form that takes. I don’t know whether the courts or legislators force that on us. I don’t know how much of it is we will be proactive and put that plan in place ourselves as an enterprise, but that will be coming. It is not optional.”

Importantly, Dannen also made the distinction that he’s not talking about NIL. Those aren’t payments coming from the school itself. These future payments would come from the school itself and it would have an impact on the budget moving forward.

“I talked a lot about NIL today and 1890 [Nebraska’s NIL collective]. That is what NIL will transition into, and we better be supporting it to the max today because as we transition, we will be supporting it to the max tomorrow,” Dannen said.

“I said this earlier, and I hate to repeat myself, but we’ve always focused on coach, recruitment, and retention, and how important that is. People. Time to focus on student-athlete recruitment and retention, and it’s a different model. Some people don’t like it and those who don’t want to embrace, that’s fine. I know this, we will embrace it because that is, when I say ‘the price of success,’ coaches contracts, price of success. We will be able to pay the price for success.”