Blue and Gold Illustrated

Jan. 1, 2021

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

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6 JAN. 1, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I t's been 12 and a half years since then newly hired Notre Dame di- rector of athletics Jack Swarbrick prophesied that the NCAA landscape was on the verge of dramatic change. Major conference realignments, a football playoff, altered recruiting calendars were among the significant shifts in the past decade. Entering a new decade in the 2020s, even more changes loom. Among them are student-athletes playing for profit, the change in the one-time transfer rule, and confed- erating sports. They were among the talking points Swarbrick, who turns 67 next March, delved into during a December meeting with media. In October 2019, the NCAA ruled that college athletes can be allowed to profit for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). The original goal was to implement it by January 2021. As expected, how- ever, red tape has become an issue. "The implementation is a mess, and sadly so," Swarbrick said. "We've got a number of state laws, we've got Congress, who I think will act this spring in this area, and we've got the NCAA struggling to figure out what the final legislation may look like given that environment. "I wish the implementation could enjoy a little more clarity, and I think it's going to." Like a top professional athlete who has lucrative endorsements beyond the playing field or arena, so too could a college athlete monetize his skill into profit. What if fifth-year senior quarter- back Ian Book, for example, could be allowed to receive a percentage of sales from his No. 12 jersey sold at Notre Dame? In April 2018, after Notre Dame junior basketball player Arike Ogun- bowale converted a couple of dra- matic buzzer-beating baskets in the NCAA Final Four to help the Fight- ing Irish win the national champion- ship, she became an instant mega- star across the country and was even selected to compete in "Dancing With The Stars" competition. The NCAA granted her a waiver that allowed her to make any prize money from the show with the rea- soning that her appearance there is "unrelated to her basketball abili- ties," thus making her eligible to par- ticipate in DWS. Consequently, the next step is a Pandora's Box on how to properly execute and balance student-athletes receiving compensation for their talents while still maintaining their "amateur" status. The board asked each of the NCAA's three divisions to create the necessary new rules. Whenever that might come to frui- tion, Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Swarbrick have been on the record as supporting it. "We see it as an opportunity to work closely with our student-ath- letes to educate them on how to ap- propriately maximize name, image and likeness value," Swarbrick said. "We look forward to doing that." Notre Dame's reasoning is that this situation with a student-athlete is no different from another student at the school who might possess, for ex- ample, superb musical talents and could be compensated handsomely playing for an orchestra while still a student at the school. "We support it based on our fun- damental view that we want the ex- perience of the student-athlete to be much like the experience of the non-student-athlete at this univer- sity as much as possible," Swarbrick summarized. UNDER THE DOME RATE OF CHANGE Constantly evolving college athletics presents adjustments for Jack Swarbrick and his peers Director of athletics Jack Swarbrick has long been an advocate of student-friendly rules changes by the NCAA, such as "name, image and likeness" benefits and immediate eligibility for transfers. He sees even more changes coming on the national landscape. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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