Jake Dickert said Monday that in three weeks — when Washington State’s season ends — it will be open season on the Cougars’ roster and Wazzu doesn’t have the resources to compete with teams if NIL starts becoming a factor.

The Cougs’ head coach was asked about the role of NIL in recruitment and roster management when he met with reporters on Monday. He said Washington State lags way behind its peers, and said teams are already looking to poach its players.

Dickert reiterated that he’s in support of players being able to profit off their name, image, and likeness. But as things stand, the Cougars aren’t competitive in that arena.

“As a university and a program, to be where we want to be and where we should be, (NIL)’s gotta be a huge part of it,” Dickert said. “It has to be.”

No doubt the Cougs are starting to feel a squeeze. The 2023 season has gone sideways with five consecutive losses. With this being the final year of the Pac-12 and Washington State’s future very uncertain, the Cougs are facing a crucial stretch for the program.

“In today’s world, you can no longer just say passion and spirit is gonna get you by anymore,” Dickert said. “The facts are Washington State, we’re way behind. Not even competitive in some aspects of the NIL.”

Dickert said recruits will tell them what they’re being offered elsewhere. Oregon State can offer 10 times what Wazzu can, according to Dickert. Arizona can offer 20 times.

“USC, Washington, Oregon, who even knows? It’s a whole other planet,” Dickert said. “That’s part of what we need and it’s very, very important.”

Until that changes, Dickert says Washington State will have to rely on high school recruiting and development.

“There gotta be a connection piece to it. There’s gotta be a want to buy in and stay and I think that’s going to be part of the future and the vision of what we’re building,” Dickert said. “We’ve realized over the last couple of years the portal will never be where we can build this program. The portal, you need NIL money to get portal guys. Period. That’s what we’ve found out the last two years. The evidence is very heavy in that direction.”