Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

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

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4 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED A rike Ogunbowale wouldn't recognize me from any of the other balding 50-somethings at a Notre Dame women's basketball game, but she still left me with an in- trospective outlook adjustment dur- ing the last two months or so. Not only did the star Irish shoot- ing guard boost my interest in wom- en's college basketball after her two game-winning shots in the Final Four brought a national championship as the grand prize, but a few weeks later she caused me to do something I never thought possible. She did something that neither Emmitt Smith, nor Mr. T, nor Jerry Springer, nor Evander Holyfield, nor Bill Nye the Science Guy, nor hun- dreds of others could. Ogunbowale got me to watch "Dancing with the Stars" for the first time in the 13 years since the show came on the air. And if Ogunbowale can inspire this crusty columnist to try some- thing new, hopefully she can move the crustier members of the NCAA to do likewise in the future. See, Ogunbowale's appearance on the show — which was an all-ath- letes edition — was different from her fellow nine competitors because she was the lone athlete who fell un- der the jurisdiction of the NCAA. In fact, the 21-year-old needed a waiver from the NCAA — which she secured — first, to not only appear on the show but also to accept any benefits, including prize money, that she might have earned. The old-guard NCAA still holds fast to an antiquated rule that its ath- letes cannot be compensated because of the "publicity, reputation, fame or personal following that he or she has obtained because of athletics ability." Considering that before her invita- tion to "DWTS" Ogunbowale's Final Four heroics landed her on the "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," where she met her basketball idol Kobe Bry- ant, and then on the cover of Sports Illustrated, this NCAA ruling came as an unexpected departure from an inflexible association. And maybe, just maybe, overlook- ing that obvious connection between Ogunbowale's athletic success and her celebrity demand is the first sign that the NCAA finally recognizes the time has come to show some consideration for player compensation in order to share some of the enormous wealth generated from its student-athletes. Think about the millions the Univer- sity of Maryland, Baltimore County, made off apparel sales and other resid- ual revenue in March — not a penny of which was shared with the play- ers who made it happen — when the No. 16-seeded Retrievers pulled the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history over top-seeded Virginia. Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye was another example in 2017 when he lost his eligibility after profiting from ad sales on non- football-related videos that he posted on YouTube. Given stories like these and count- less others, isn't it right to allow col- lege athletes to earn a few bucks endorsing products, or signing auto- graphs, or appearing on TV shows, or using the Internet for personal gain? If the NCAA someday allows ath- letes to earn side money on their own time and terms, there undeniably will be some problems and guide- lines to address. But making a few bucks in the same way a music major can by cutting an album, or joining a band, or performing a concert should be considered differently than paying a player a flat salary or stipend just for being a team member. "Once we go down that road," Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins C.S.C., said of the latter model, "we become a second- or third-tier professional league." One way or another, Ogunbowale's appearance on "DWTS" — and the NCAA allowing it — paves a tricky trail moving forward to when college football's top quarterbacks or college basketball's future NBA stars ask for similar exemptions to participate in non-sanctioned events. That's when we'll find out if the NCAA actually is becoming more open to letting the players who line its pockets put a few bucks in their own. Ogunbowale's stay on "DWTS" didn't last long. She was bounced along with basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in week two, so cer- tainly any prize money, if there was any, wasn't nearly as great as what her impact on the future of college athletics might be. The NCAA turned 112 years old this spring, and lists its total assets at $704.42 million, so changing any long-standing laws that brought such long-running profits will be difficult. That said, if I can actually set a cell- phone reminder to not miss "Danc- ing with the Stars," then anything is humanly possible. ✦ Winning Titles And Blazing Trails 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 Arike Ogunbowale's two game-winning shots paved the way for Notre Dame's national championship on the hardwood. Now the question becomes, will her appearance on "Dancing With The Stars" lead to NCAA changes? PHOTO COURTESY DANCING WITH THE STARS VIA YOUTUBE

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