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Day 1 of the NIL era sees Huskers athletes promote everything from podcasts to dog trainers
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NAME, IMAGE AND LIKENESS

Day 1 of the NIL era sees Huskers athletes promote everything from podcasts to dog trainers

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Nebraska vs. Baylor, 4.18

Nebraska's Lexi Sun celebrates a point in the third set against Baylor during an NCAA Tournament match on April 18 at CHI Health Center Omaha. 

Discussing the NCAA's name, image and likeness policies.

On the first day student-athletes could begin making money on their name, image, and likeness, several Nebraska athletes took advantage of the new rules that went into effect at midnight Thursday.

As expected, the potential avenues to make money ran the gamut, and only figure to increase as the days and weeks pass.

In Lincoln, Huskers took to social media to promote everything from clothes, to podcasts, to dog trainers, to the chance to play video games with NU athletes.

It's a new world, and Thursday marked just the first step.

"We've obviously been waiting for this for a really long time. I feel like everyone's been talking about it for a few months now, and I can't believe it's actually here," NU volleyball player Lexi Sun said on the Huskers Radio Network. "I feel like it doesn't really feel real. I'm excited to see the opportunities that come, and what goes from here."

Sun was one of the first Husker athletes to get to work when the clock struck midnight.

Sun, with nearly 76,000 Instagram followers and another 13,000-plus on Twitter, partnered with REN Athletics to launch a clothing line with the first piece of merchandise a crewneck sweatshirt featuring a logo Sun designed.

Sun also shared that she planned to donate some of her earnings.

"Because of the lasting impact that our sports psychology department has had on my life, I am committed to donating a portion of the proceeds back to a non-profit sports psychology organization," Sun wrote at renathletics.com. "I am hopeful that this will provide other athletes with the opportunity to learn more about themselves & be able to grow not only on the court, but also as individuals off the court."

Also at midnight, brothers and Nebraska men's basketball players Trey and Bryce McGowens announced a podcast called "Off Court with The McGowens" that is sponsored by Tanner's Bar and Grill and Tavern 180. The McGowens brothers are partnering with Husker Online on the project, with the first episode featuring appearances from NU coaches Fred Hoiberg and Matt Abdelmassih, and players C.J. Wilcher and Quaran McPherson.

Both brothers figure to play major roles on the court for NU this season, with Trey McGowens set for his second season in Lincoln while Bryce McGowens is the first five-star recruit to sign with the Huskers out of high school.

Football players Omar Manning and Tyreke Johnson announced Thursday that they partnered with Yoke Gaming, an app that allows fans to pay to play video games with college athletes. Proactive Sport Agency also announced it would represent Manning in the wide receiver's various deals.

One of the more unique promotions came from Nebraska defensive lineman Casey Rogers, who at midnight tweeted a promotion for Citizen K-9 Training in Lincoln.

Of course, it was accompanied by the hashtag #throwtheBONES.

Midway through Thursday afternoon, Opendorse announced it had secured 1,000 deals for college athletes since NIL went into effect.

Turns out, the athletes announcing their first endorsements was the easy part of the process. 

On eve of Name, Image and Likeness, Runza says it will offer Nebraska athletes endorsement deals

NU interim athletic director Garrett Klassy said on the Huskers Radio Network that because the NCAA didn't come out with its NIL guidelines until late in the day Wednesday, he and a group that included Nebraska's creative, marketing, compliance and legal teams worked until 9 p.m. finalizing the university's NIL policy.

"The old days in college athletics, you would go into the compliance office on the first day you're back for practice, and they would go through telling you what you shouldn't do on social media," Klassy said. "Now it's changed. It's a 180. Now, they show you and educate you on what you're supposed to do on social media."

Several athletes across Nebraska took to social media to take advantage of the deal announced Wednesday by Runza and Opendorse to give deals to the first 100 who opted in and promoted the restaurant's reward app. Among them were tight end Austin Allen, NU pitcher Cade Povich, and Husker basketball player Kobe Webster.

Povich had a busy day, also sending tweets to promote Gopuff, an online delivery service. Gopuff also partnered with Opendorse to offer every student athlete at all levels a chance to promote its product, and the bulk of Thursday's activity seemed to center on that. 

Besides Webster, Wilhelm Breidenbach, C.J. Wilcher, Chris McGraw, and Sam Hoiberg, son of head coach Fred Hoiberg, got in on the Gopuff action.

Social media posts were steady, if slow, from NU's athletes throughout the day.

Sun remembered being interviewed about a year ago, when NIL first became a real possibility. She didn't expect to be back at Nebraska this season. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Sun decided to take advantage of her extra year.

"(A year ago) I was like 'Wow, I don't know, I haven't thought about that,'" Sun said about being asked about how her teammates might benefit from NIL.

"And here I am, benefiting from it. So it's pretty crazy how the tables have turned and I get to be here for this."

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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