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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Chad Bowden | In Focus | Talking (Or Not Talking) NIL

May 12, 2022
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It may be the only thing most people are talking about in the world of recruiting these days, but not Chad Bowden.

“I don't want to talk about NIL,” Notre Dame’s Director of Recruiting told Irish Sports Daily during a wide-ranging interview last week.

“I want to talk about how we're going to impact their lives forever.”

Part of Bowden’s reluctance to talk about NIL is the fact that the NCAA restricts schools from being involved in the process of securing deals for players.

“NIL is something I can't be a part of and won't be a part of,” Bowden said. “That's not why these kids need to choose a school. They have to be reminded they're choosing a school because of what they're going to become when they're 30 and 35, 40, 45, 50 years old. That's the most important thing. That's everything.

“I know there's a lot going on with NIL across the country. I know there's a lot that these kids are hearing and these kids are being taken advantage of. That's not why I got into this business. It's not. I care about these kids.”

Programs across the country clearly found the NCAA’s laughable stance on not using NIL as a ‘pay-for-play’ scheme quite hilarious.

The initial NCAA guidelines said, “During the interim NIL policy, the expectation is that schools and student-athletes will not use NIL transactions to compensate for athletic participation or achievement or as an improper inducement.”

The NCAA announced additional guidance earlier this week.

Still, less than a year since being enacted, Name, Image, Likeness has rocked the landscape to the point where million-dollar deals for prospects to attend specific schools are commonplace.

Former Irish quarterback Brady Quinn has helped establish FUND (Friends of University of Notre Dame) to serve as an NIL Collective for Notre Dame. But Quinn’s organization has a far different mission than those set up solely to lure recruits to schools with the promise of big bucks. FUND will connect current Irish athletes with legitimate charities and help arrange appropriate compensation for appearances and social media engagement.

So, while the Irish aren’t ignoring NIL, the response from Bowden and his staff has been about leaning even more into the University’s core values.

“We have to be able to teach these young kids that there's a lot more than a handout that is going on in college football,” said Bowden. “We have to be able to remind them that it's not about four years. It's about the rest of their lives. It's about forever.

“You can't sit there and water down what Notre Dame is. You have to embrace what Notre Dame is. This is a place that if you earn a degree from Notre Dame, you can get any job you want in the world…not just in the state of Indiana. A lot of these state schools, that's what they have to offer. This is a place that if you earn a degree from Notre Dame, you'll be set for the rest of your life.”

Just like everything else in recruiting, ultimately it comes down to relationships and being genuine with prospects and their families.

“I think it's important that you're real with these kids,” said Bowden. “If you really do care about the kids that are 16, 17, 18 years old, then you'll say the right things to them.

“‘The most important thing is your education and if you don't understand that, man, you're going to be left behind and where you go in this world won't be the same.' I know I probably shouldn't say that, but they have to understand that it's not about this NIL. It's not about the handout…If you're not transparent with them, then you don't really care about them anyway.”

While outsiders point to NIL as another obstacle to prevent Notre Dame from again reaching the very top of the sport, Bowden sees it as an opportunity highlight the features he believes will allow the program to do exactly that.

“We have to bring in people that understand the value of the Notre Dame degree. I think that's something that Notre Dame really hasn't had, is understanding that we can get anybody at Notre Dame.

“They just have to be able to understand the importance of this place and to me, it starts with the degree, the education and who they will become when they're 45 years old.”

Chad Bowden | In Focus | Backstory Pt. I

Chad Bowden | In Focus | Backstory Pt. II

Chad Bowden | In Focus | Recruiting Championships

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