Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 9, 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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4 NOV. 9, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED I t's probably a safe bet that not many Ameri- cans living east of the West Coast have ever heard of Gavin Newsom. For those who haven't, Newsom is the governor of California who with one pen stroke in September triggered a historic shift in the future of college athletics when he signed into California law the Fair Pay to Play Act — legis- lation that allowed student- athletes in his state to benefit financially from their athletic endeavors while in college. That one seismic signa- ture eventually caused sev- eral other states to introduce similar bills, and ultimately forced the inflexible NCAA to begrudgingly take notice and finally give something back to the student-athletes it takes so much from. Late last month, the NCAA Board of Governors, which oversees col- lege sports, voted unanimously to adjust its existing rules that prohibit student-athletes from generating any income from their own fame. Many details and all the specifics remain unsettled, but in a nutshell, this NCAA ruling — set to go into ef- fect in 2021 — gives college athletes the right to profit off of their name and likeness through endorsements and sponsorships. As an example, think back to April 2018 when former Irish basketball star Arike Ogunbowale became the talk of the entire sports world during the NCAA Tournament with her sen- sational game-winning baskets and run to the national championship. This new legislation would've given Ogunbowale the right to fi- nancially gain from her three weeks of fame through endorsement deals and other appearance opportunities. But at the time, Ogunbowale wasn't even allowed to compete on "Dancing With the Stars" without first receiving a waiver from the NCAA that included the forfeiture of any prize money she may have won on the show. Former Irish football players Manti Te'o, Jaylon Smith, Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija are a few others that could've benefited when they were at Notre Dame from this long overdue NCAA ruling. And what about Everett Golson? The former Irish quarterback was never much of an NFL prospect. All of his earning power and endorse- ment opportunities came and went during the 2012 football season when he helped Notre Dame get to the BCS National Championship Game. A more recent example is former UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, whose explosive and innovative 10.0 performance on her floor exercise at- tracted 66 million online viewers to her viral YouTube video, with no payback. "The NCAA is a billion-dollar in- dustry built on the backs of college athletes," Ohashi said in a recent article for The New York Times. "How different would things be for me had I been able to use my image and name my last year of school in order to promote the things I want, to further my future?" To Notre Dame's credit, it has been an outspoken proponent for years of this play-for-pay movement, and it quickly released a statement to cel- ebrate the NCAA's recent decision. In part it read, "Notre Dame Presi- dent Father John Jenkins has long sup- ported the idea that student-athletes should be able to monetize their popularity, as long as abuse is prevented and their character as students — not professional athletes — is preserved. … [Jen- kins] agrees that the NCAA is struggling to find its role on a changed playing field. And, in what may come as a surprise, he suggests that student-athletes should be able to monetize their fame, with limits." Notre Dame athletics di- rector Jack Swarbrick has re- mained in lockstep with Fa- ther Jenkins on this matter. "I think [pay for play] would contribute to reduc- ing so many of the problems we have," Swarbrick said of players routinely tak- ing money, gifts and favors from boosters, and some- times even coaches. Now, before we start celebrating the NCAA on its sudden change of pos- ture, keep in mind that its move wasn't made because it wanted to help its stu- dent-athletes. It was made because the momentum Newsom created forced it to, despite any self-serving rhetoric. "This modernization for the fu- ture," said Michael Drake, the chair- man of the NCAA Board of Gover- nors, "is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes." Yet, just two months ago, the NCAA threatened by formal letter to throw out all of its member schools in Cali- fornia if the Fair Pay to Play Act passed, "which would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions," it read, in part. By not blinking, Governor New- som forced the NCAA bigwigs to fi- nally realize that partnering with the athletes who pay their fat salaries is a helluva lot smarter than fighting an ongoing battle they were someday going to lose. ✦ Pay For Play Is Finally Upon Us UPON FURTHER REVIEW TODD D. BURLAGE Todd D. Burlage has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2005. He can be reached at Former Irish women's basketball player Arike Ogunbowale is among those who could have capitalized on long overdue NCAA legislation that will allow student- athletes to benefit financially from their athletic endeavors while in college. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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