TIM PRISTER: You have supported the name, the image and the likeness from the very beginning. You have been at the forefront of it. What concerns do you have?
JACK SWARBRICK: Overall, I’m not concerned with the activity that resulted. There have been some agreements that are worrying. I don’t understand how they got there and why they are doing well.
TP: Can you give a specific example?
JS: Not on file. But overall I think the transactions are appropriate. They make sense and are good for children. What worries me, given its unregulated nature right now, is its impact on recruiting. I think it’s gonna be a mess. Recruiting this year is going to have some really horrible NIL dimensions.
We’re already hearing rumors of a potential student-athlete whose family will tell you, “What’s your NIL Guarantee? This suggests that someone else gave them an NIL guarantee.
TP: Notre Dame is now promoting the GLD Center – the support center for those looking for a NIL consultation. When it comes to Notre-Dame athletics, are you comfortable with what you offer your student-athletes in terms of support and recommendations?
JS: I’m really happy. We have a great group of staff who have tried to put this in place for the benefit of our student-athletes. It’s a lot to try to educate people. It is so. Our student-athletes have been wonderful. We are working together to understand it. Our role is to get student-athletes to get to where they get the benefits they want. But how do you get there?
TP: There must be so many questions from the players and their families. Who answers all these questions?
JS: We try to educate our coaches so that they can do it. But we have staff who are very involved. They are a resource for coaches in the same way that the pedagogical advisor is a resource for coaches to explain academic matters.
TP: Where do you see him going from here to Notre Dame?
JS: I think it will continue on the path that we are following. I am very happy with it. We’re going to have a casual student who’s going to make a lot of money and we’re fine with that. This is a good thing. Some of our student-athletes will earn a lot of money and it will have nothing to do with their athletic level. They’ll either have a great business idea or they’ll be a social media expert.
By far the main sources of income today are certain female Olympic sports athletes who are highly followed by the media. They understand social media. One young woman (LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne) has amassed five million followers. You can monetize five million followers. It has more to do with being a Tik Tok celebrity than being an LSU gymnast.
So we’ll have our share of those, either because their sporting profile is so high, they have a great business idea, or they have great social media skills. I like this. I think it’s great for our student-athletes. For most student-athletes, this is not a large amount of money. But the opportunity is there.
TP: When it comes to the NIL and the ability of the NCAA to control varsity athletics, they’ve lost their ability to do that, haven’t they?
JS: Right. They go through a process that points to November where they try to decide what role the NCAA will play in the future. It is long overdue.
TP: I think that covers everything. Well, someone asked me at a recent Notre Dame club event how long you would stay at your post at Notre Dame. Has the pandemic and everything going on in intercollegiate athletics slowed down your endgame process at Notre Dame?
JS: (laughing) I would be much closer. You’re right.
TP: How long will Jack Swarbrick stay in this office at the University of Notre Dame?
JS: I don’t know. I serve to the pleasure of my boss. But I feel a real obligation to try to steer the ship through the storm. I think there is something calmer at the end and I would like to bring us to it. It would be really hard to get someone else to come in now and take over.