Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2021

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

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8 AUGUST 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY PATRICK ENGEL A rule change and new era of col- lege athletics Notre Dame has supported is now reality. Effective July 1, college athletes are allowed to earn money for use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). The NCAA's long-standing bylaws preventing it are no more af- ter its Board of Directors approved national NIL guidelines. It's a voyage into uncharted waters using a ship being built as it's sailing. The NIL era will likely feature lots of learning on the fly and unforeseen ripple effects. But it's a journey col- lege athletics has gradually come to accept as necessary. The route here was uneven, with the NCAA forced to act only because states began passing their own NIL laws in 2019. The NCAA hoped Con- gress would pass a federal law by July 1, but when that became un- likely, it took some 11th-hour action to ensure athletes in every state will be allowed to profit from use of their NIL. Athletes in states with NIL laws will follow those rules. In states with- out NIL laws, it's up to individual schools or conferences to adopt their own policies. Indiana is not among the 14 states with NIL laws that took effect July 1, meaning Notre Dame must write its own NIL rules until the NCAA or Congress passes na- tional policy that supplants the in- terim guidelines. Per the NCAA, schools are discour- aged from directly setting up deals for their student-athletes. School lo- gos cannot be used in any NIL ven- tures. But beyond explicit pay-for- play deals (like $500 per touchdown), little is off limits. Notre Dame will release "some- thing that will be more public" on NIL soon, head coach Brian Kelly told Blue & Gold Illustrated in late June. That announcement has not come as of press time, but it is expected to in- clude partnerships with third-party vendors that help connect athletes to NIL opportunities. The athletic de- partment has, though, been ready- ing for this day since last fall, when it formed a committee to study and prepare for the possibilities. "There are so many things I can rattle off this committee has had to deal with, from how do we handle it from a compliance standpoint to where are we going to give them the guidance in terms of personnel," Kelly said. "There are a lot of pieces to this, but they began the work back in the fall. I think we're well posi- tioned to put something together." Given its prior support of NIL rights, Notre Dame's plan figures to be light on restrictions. On the whole, the football program views it as an opportunity to enhance its appeal and power. That dovetails into an offseason full of innovation in its recruiting approach. First-year defensive coor- dinator Marcus Freeman has so far delivered on his renowned recruiting reputation — one of the pluses to hir- ing him. He talks about closing gaps and acknowledges it takes another level of recruiting to win in the Col- lege Football Playoff. Elsewhere, Notre Dame launched a national billboard campaign this spring and created ample social me- dia buzz with its Pot of Gold recruit- ing day that, rather appropriately, took place March 17. Those moves were geared toward helping Notre Dame further establish its brand nationally. To Kelly, that same reach potential makes his pro- UNDER THE DOME A NEW ERA Brian Kelly and Notre Dame feel well prepared for the NIL world Kelly looks at name, image and likeness opportunities as a positive for Notre Dame, but he says they won't take over the program's recruiting pitch. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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