Notre Dame Must Embrace Players Being Compensated For Likeness

If Notre Dame embraces players being compensated for their likeness it could help even the playing field.
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The NCAA Board of Governors has opened up a pathway for student-athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness. It’s a complicated issue that is still likely at least a year away from being enacted, but it is a matter of when, not if this goes into effect.

Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins has said in the past that if it came down to paying student-athletes then the school would have serious decisions to make about staying in the current NCAA model, but those comments were about players being paid by the institutions, and this is not that.

Players getting compensated for their likeness is going to happen, whether we agree with it or not (I do not), so Notre Dame needs to embrace this, and realize if done correctly this could be very good for Notre Dame and its recruiting efforts.

There are two realities I’ve learned from doing this for over a decade. 1) Notre Dame doesn’t pay players to sign with them, and 2) This practice is quite rampant at other institutions, especially those competing for championships on a consistent basis.

I’ve never bought into this being the reason Notre Dame can’t compete for championships, because players were being bought in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s as well, and Notre Dame won titles in each of those decades. But it does have an impact and it makes things harder on programs like Notre Dame, programs that do not buy players.

But Notre Dame can still compete because there are still plenty of student-athletes and plenty of families who can’t be bought, and student-athletes and families that understand the value in education as a better long-term solution.

One particular defensive back at Notre Dame, who later went on to play in the NFL, was offered money from an ACC school, but he informed his father and the father made sure that school knew to never contact his son again. This was a student-athlete and a family that was not going to cheat, and they aren’t alone.

But this new rule gives Notre Dame a pathway to even the odds a bit.

From my experience, athletes and their families fall into three categories. One is those who will not accept money, two is those who would rather not but feel compelled for a number of reasons, and three are those who are simply looking to use their child’s athletic talents into an immediate pay day.

The first and middle groups are where Notre Dame does it’s best work. Notre Dame obviously has a lot of success with the first group, but if they can have more influence with student-athletes in the second group then you will see the talent on the roster increase.

There have been student-athletes who did want to attend Notre Dame, but also felt they needed to help out their families, so they will take money and go somewhere else. Sometimes this meant a student was simply from a poor family and felt an obligation to help, or instances where a family circumstance arose that changed things for him.

If Notre Dame embraces this rule and has a plan in place for their student-athletes to make money, manage that money and use this as something to help them now and in the future, players like that will be far more likely to pick Notre Dame.

Notre Dame could then not only sell the financial value of their education - the whole 4 for 40 idea - but can also entice student-athletes and their families of the financial gain they can have while at Notre Dame. Notre Dame is without question a premier program, it’s a money maker, and you can be sure that Notre Dame players will be just as sought out for this as players at the other powerhouses, and that is where this can be a huge benefit.

Look, players and families looking for one big pay out aren’t going to consider Notre Dame anyway, and this rule doesn’t change that at all. But there is a group of players that are in the middle in that they are attracted to Notre Dame for a number of reasons, but at the end of the day the financial enticement is too good to pass up.

It is those student athletes that Notre Dame could have a shot with now, and if they can simply land two or three of those student-athletes a year it will have a significant impact.

NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE ABOUT THE STUDENT PART

What this entire debate shows is that many in the sports media, the NCAA and Congress simply do not care about the student part of student-athlete.

Media members that love to bash the NCAA - which is easy and lazy - and push for payers to be played are all but saying they don’t really care about athletes getting an education.

If they did care then there would be about a dozen changes they would be advocating for well before we got to the NIL or paying players debate. They would care a lot more about what is happening - or better said, not happening - at the powerhouse programs from an “education” standpoint.

It’s fraudulent, and no one in the media or in Congress seems to care.

They would rather take the easy road of pushing for paying players than to do what I believe the national media’s job should be, which is to expose the academic fraud that schools are pulling off with athletes.

I don’t care if payers get paid, I care more about school’s giving these young people the kind of education they need to provide for themselves for the next several decades, but no one cares about that, they are simply pushing for immediate payments that will be gone by the time these young people are 30.

So many young people go to these colleges, get to the professional ranks and blow all their money. A big part of the reason is most aren’t provided with the knowledge, education and academic resources to turn whatever money they do make into long term stability for themselves and their families. There has been horror story after horror story about this in the past, although we don’t seem to hear about it anymore.

Is that because it’s not happening anymore? Perhaps, but I doubt it.

When the money these players will make, which won’t be life changing, is gone what will those athletes be able to rely on if they are among the VAST majority of players who do not make it to the NFL? That’s where the education is supposed to come into play, but a lot of athletes aren’t getting a real education, and the fact the national media seems to never bring this up shows they don’t care.

If people cared about the athletes and their future well-being this is what reporters would be writing about, and this is what state and federal legislators would be pushing for. But we can now accept that they simply do not care about that.

The reason I say that it is obvious now is because athletes at these programs already have tremendous burdens on them from a time commitment standpoint. Even athletes who don’t have the academic demands that an institution like Notre Dame, Northwestern or Stanford place on them are quite burdened.

And now, on top of all the requirements for the athletics program, these young people will now have agents and handlers that are getting them into advertising situations.

So when exactly are these students supposed to go to class, go to the library, so to study groups, write papers and study for tests? Why is this never brought up on ESPN? Maybe it has, but I haven’t seen it or read about it.

The fact this question isn’t even being brought up just shows that no one really cares about the well-being of students anymore, they only care about money and power.

It’s sad, but it’s been true for sometime. Now they just aren’t hiding it anymore.

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