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Q: If the NCAA decided to pay players? How long before a player sues for higher pay or free agency? -- @Billfehlberg

A: The NCAA’s Board of Governors announced Wednesday its support for NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) legislation, which is a big step in athletes being compensated. We’ll never see the NCAA or individual schools favor a system in which they pay athletes a salary. That’s too complicated in terms of who gets what and how much.

I’ve long supported this Olympic model of allowing athletes to profit off their name or likeness. I’ll have more on this in a column this weekend, but a star athlete for the Gophers in any sport should be able to earn income through autograph signings, social media or by appearing in commercials or billboards for a company. This change should take effect by January 2021. It’s long overdue.

The next big rule change will be to allow athletes a one-time transfer in which they can transfer without penalty one time. That is expected to happen soon.

Q: Gopher Football Bateman and Faalele leave early and where do they get drafted? do they keep the recruiting success going? Provided they play, do they win the Big Ten West? -- @DeltaSig72

A: Bateman looks like a first-round pick next year, assuming he declares after his junior season. He has all the physical tools to be a star in the NFL.

I thought Daniel Faalele was inconsistent early in the season (same with entire line) but improved as the season progressed. Scouts obviously will love his size and ability to move defenders in the run game. It will be important for him to stay healthy, dominate opposing defensive ends and just keep developing his technique and all those things that NFL scouts dissect in evaluating linemen.

As far as Fleck’s recruiting success, I don’t see it slowing down. If anything, I think his staff will continue to land more high-profile recruits as the program’s “brand” gains more national attention. Fleck is relentless as a recruiter and now he can sell tangible progress (11 wins) and momentum in his program (Outback Bowl, College GameDay, recruiting rankings, 5 players drafted, top-notch facilities.)

On third point, I’d pick either Gophers or Wisconsin to win the Big Ten West.

Q: Maybe you have written this and I missed it but I'd be interested in your insight on AAU hoops growth here and how its turned us into state of basketball. -- @Brianallie

A: I did a project in 2017 examining this question. Here is that story. Minnesota was late to the game in allowing kids to play AAU basketball. Once the MSHSL opened the door, the growth of basketball in Minnesota skyrocketed. This truly has become a basketball state when you consider at all the blue-chip high school talent being produced.

Q: I’d like to know more about the Gopher softball coach departure. Takes team to the college World Series and is only offered a 1 year contract? Seems they gave her an offer she had to refuse. Is there a backstory there? -- @kpow55125

A: Typically, coaches get big raises or new deals after winning championships or taking their team on a deep postseason run. That didn’t happen in Jamie Trachsel’s case.

The fact that Gophers AD Mark Coyle only offered Trachsel a one-year extension after leading her team to the College World Series suggests a few possibilities.

One possibility: Perhaps there were issues behind the scenes that haven’t been made public that caused Coyle to take a lukewarm approach.

Another possibility: Coyle is worried about the financial situation in his department with the pandemic and realizes he couldn’t get into a bidding war for a coach in a sport that loses money.

Every Gophers sport already faced some belt-tightening with their budget in recent years. The COVID-19 crisis will require more than belt-tightening.

Schools are eliminating sports as a result of lost revenue. The situation will become exponentially worse if the football season gets cancelled or delayed until early 2021. Athletic directors will have to make hard decisions in the coming months as they deal with massive revenue loss.

The Gophers softball program reported revenues of $177,000 and operating expenses of $1.8 million the last fiscal year. They opened this season with road trips to Florida (twice), Texas, Alabama, California and Hawaii. Funding a spring sport in a northern state gets expensive.

Trachsel nearly doubled her salary ($245,000 compared to $140,000 with the Gophers) in taking over the Ole Miss program. Good career move for her. But I don’t fault Coyle for not making the same financial commitment in softball as the SEC and other southern schools do.

Q: I saw recently that the NWHL expanded their league with a new franchise in Toronto, I would take this as a signal that the league is healthy. Any word on how the Whitecaps are weathering the storm? -- Emailer Kenneth

A: I checked with Whitecaps co-coach/GM Jack Brodt, who said “we’re doing fine.”

The Whitecaps were scheduled to travel to Boston to play in the NWHL championship game when the sports world got shut down in mid-March. Brodt said he doubts that game will be played once sports resume.

The league held its draft this week, and Brodt said he remains hopeful the season will start on time in November.

Q: My question is about the Gopher Football team: Whenever the next college football season is, what role do you see Zack Annexstad playing for the team, if any? -- Emailer Karl

A: I’m assuming he will compete for the backup job with Jacob Clark and Cole Kramer. Annexstad’s injuries have been unfortunate, but Tanner Morgan has developed into one of the top quarterbacks in college football. I thought one of those backups might transfer because that happens so frequently with quarterbacks these days but all of them are still here.

Q: What was the most insightful/truthful response given to you by a coach that made you take pause? -- @Olewon178

A: Well, it wasn’t given directly to me but as a young reporter working in North Carolina in 1996, I was there for one of Jim Mora’s epic meltdowns after his New Orleans Saints team lost to the Panthers because they couldn’t do diddly poo.

Q: Favorite Hazy IPA -- @SethSimonson

A: My IPA rotation:

Surly Furious

Indeed Hop Dab

Indeed Flavorwave

Steel Toe 7

Cigar City Jai Alai

Q: Do the Vols have to wait for Peyton’s kids to compete for national titles again? -- @jgbaskin

A: I sure hope not. I have faith my Vols are on the rise. And when we win the national title, I’ll be there celebrating in the stadium wearing this and singing this ...

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