Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2022

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

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM JUNE/JULY 2022 5 ENGEL'S ANGLE PATRICK ENGEL Patrick Engel has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since March 2020. He can be reached at BY PATRICK ENGEL M ike Brey directed his ire at his coaching colleagues. But really, it's wise counsel for anyone with an involvement or interest in college athletics. The Notre Dame men's basket- ball head coach did not hold his tongue when talking to report- ers at the ACC's spring meetings about name, image and likeness and the transfer portal. The gist of his comments, in diplomatic terms? Get used to it. "We've got to stop complaining," Brey said. "This is the world we're in. Last time I checked, you make pretty good money. So everybody should shut up and adjust." Put it on a T-shirt or a bumper sticker for all to see, even those who aren't millionaire university employees. At its core, the lamenting from coaches, administrators, media and fans that college sports are ruined and the I-told-you-so grumbles are another way of communicating a lack of comfort with change. Iowa athletics director Gary Barta's suggestion to rein- state the sit-out transfer rule as a matter of regaining control is shortsightedness rooted in a desire to cling to an outdated set of rules and power structure. Why? Because they're comfortable. Comfort is less important than fair- ness, though. College sports are in this new era because allowing players to move freely and capitalize on their value is do- ing right by them. The changes are here to stay in this age of player empowerment. Yes, these changes are seismic. The NIL era and immediate transfer eligi- bility are massive shifts on their own. Combine them, and the result is one unpredictable storm. It's understand- able for coaches or fans to be frustrated. Their teams are losing players or miss- ing out on players in ways they never have before. Being a coach is a demand- ing job right now. And none of this is to say there aren't valid quibbles and things haven't been messy. There's a difference between bemoaning how NIL and the transfer portal ruined college sports and dis- cussing ways to find a more sustainable model. In fact, it's hard to say this is sustainable. You don't have to squint too hard to find examples just from the last month. There are pay-for-play contracts devised under the guise (and techni- cally within the rules) of NIL that are far from the true intent of NIL. There have been allegations of tampering. Miami basketball player Isaiah Wong threatening to enter the transfer portal if he didn't get a raise in his sponsor- ship deal with a Miami booster's startup company was a de facto contract hold- out. There are tales of agents shopping recruits and players. There's a rightful feeling of untenability. Brey isn't pushing back against criti- cism of any of those unprecedented moments or resistant to suggestions for fixes. Instead of grumbling, coaches and administrators ought to start figuring out answers that stabilize the environ- ment but don't take away players' op- portunities to take advantage of their value. You know, adjust. These loopholes in the system aren't here because NIL rights or immediate transfer eligibil- ity were allowed, but because of how few concrete and enforceable rules exist around them. That's a product of the NCAA resisting NIL for years, begging the fed- eral government to pass NIL laws when it couldn't resist any lon- ger and then telling the schools to govern NIL themselves when no federal legislation came. Firmer but still fair rules don't try to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Those will only be pos- sible when decision makers come to grips with a seemingly inevi- table reality. On3 national college football writer Ivan Maisel put it wisely in a recent column. "NIL started out as a stopgap between the NCAA model and outright payment," Maisel wrote. "It included a quid pro quo — the athlete performs a service for an outside entity, which pays him or her in kind. Instead, the stopgap became the bridge to professionalism." The sooner everyone with an interest in college athletics — from coaches to fans — can admit amateurism is past the point of no return, the faster a more sustainable for NIL and the one-time transfer rule will arrive. Truthfully, college sports have felt professional for a while, with TV contracts and brand valuations worth billions of dollars. Wong's de facto holdout is a common practice in pro sports. One never-before-seen NIL or portal- related occurrence after another might feel uncomfortable. Together, they smash apart old norms and nostalgia. Time to stop clinging to those, though, when they're long past practi- cal and were incongruent with a neces- sary power shift that benefits the play- ers. Time to shut up and adjust. ✦ Mike Brey is fed up with his fellow college coaches' complaints about NIL and the transfer portal. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS 'Shut Up And Adjust' Is Good Advice For All

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