SALT LAKE CITY — Imagine the new BYU starting quarterback begging off the usual postgame media interviews, citing his exclusive contract with a local television station.
Can it happen as soon as this season? Bet on it, if not at BYU then somewhere in college football.
"That's a possibility," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe. "It certainly would be legal and OK in a lot of places."
Crazy to picture, but it's coming thanks to college athletes now being able to profit off their name, image and likeness, known as NIL. Welcome to an entirely new world, essentially one in which pay-for-play is real even as the rules forbid compensation for athletic accomplishments.
In a nearly 30-minute interview on The Zone Sports Network, Holmoe acknowledged the host of unknowns facing athletic departments and their athletes in all sports. The immediate reality could look drastically different in the coming weeks, months and years.
At this point, all we really know are some players, previously referred to as student-athletes, will cash in out in the open for all to see rather than being limited to seedy under-the-table payments that have existed for decades. The range of possibilities is literally limitless, creating a mixture of relief and anxiety for administrators.
The scenario of the BYU quarterback refusing general interviews might be extreme, but count on players and their advisors pushing boundaries. It also could create headaches for sports information departments that have consistently and gradually reduced media access over the years.
Instead of tightly controlling the message, media relations directors may have to loosen the reigns. After all, they can't be in the business of curtailing a player's potential earnings power.
In BYU's case, as with most other universities, programs have exclusive contracts with media entities that could infringe on a player's ability to secure his or her own deals. Individual coaches also could create program rules to regulate access.
In accordance with BYU's honor code, athletes won't be permitted to enter into agreements that go against university rules. BYU also wants to review all NIL agreements, which could be nothing more than a wish.
As Holmoe said, right now there are more questions than answers. Sooner rather than later, boundaries are going to be pushed.
"Those questions will be answered in short order," he said, "because people are going to challenge (policies). Is that OK — sure it is. It's going to make us work overtime. Our brains are going to be on at all times. We're going to have to be really creative. We're going to have to put away things that we thought from the past and start looking to the future."
Even before the new rules took effect last week, various companies contacted BYU interested in cutting deals with players. Some of the athletes also already took to social media to offer their services.
As with anything and everything, especially with the win-at-all costs that exist in much of college athletics, some will look to push the limits and even break or ignore rules. To better prepare its athletes for what is ahead, BYU has accelerated a program designed to better educate them.
"I just know there's a lot of unscrupulous people out there that are going to take advantage of them," Holmoe said.
BYU has 631 athletes spread over a total of 19 men's and women's sports, but likely not all will be able to profit off their NIL. The range of income could be substantial depending on the respective sports and individuals.
Even still, given all the mystery, Holmoe believes the NIL change "is a long-time coming."
"I think some of the student-athletes will have an opportunity to make some money, and rightfully so," he said. "I think that's a great thing. And, hopefully, they'll be in a position to make really good decisions and be involved with really good people."