Story Poster
Photo by Matt Freeman
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick Discusses NIL & Marcus Freeman

August 10, 2022

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick sat down with Vice President of University Relations, Lou Nanni, for a conversation on Wednesday afternoon.

Name, Image and Likeness has become a daily topic and Swarbrick gave his thoughts on the NIL era across the country and how Notre Dame is navigating the uncharted waters. 

On Notre Dame looking at NIL as Name, Image, Likeness and Ideas: 
”You started your question by saying it was dizzying for the fans. It’s dizzying for the ADs too. It’s a mess. We as college athletics have completely screwed this up. We were the first university to speak out in favor of Name, Image, Likeness and Ideas. The intention was to put student-athletes in a position that every other student at Notre Dame enjoys, which is they can benefit from their Name, Image, Likeness and Ideas. The musician can play the club on the weekend. The artist can sell art. You couldn’t do anything, even those things you couldn’t do if you were a student-athlete.” 

“We supported it. What we never anticipated was it would come online with no regulation and it would come online with the unlimited right to transfer. It’s created an untenable situation frankly. Most of what’s going on under Name, Image and Likeness has nothing to do with Name, Image and Likeness. They are not commercial transactions where I am rewarding you for something great you’ve built or the fact you’ve got five million followers on your Social Media website. 

“They are talent acquisition fees where I’m paying you to come to our school. We have to find a way to get away from that.” 

On the chance NIL is moving towards some kind of regulation:
”Not much. It’s a little hard to see a way forward where Congress isn’t involved. The NCAA is so gun shy about antitrust lawsuits right now and for good reason. They’ve lost all of them. There’s a lot of discussion with Congress, interest in Congress, but we all understand the challenges of getting congressional action these days. 

“It’s tough when you’re most promising solution is also one that’s so remote. I think we’re going to have a couple more years of this absolute mess.

“The way we deal with it is to continue to talk about the things we’ve always talked about to offer very different proposition than most schools are. If you’re not interested in getting a great education, if you’re not interested in being part of a community where you meet other students, if you’re only interested in the transactional side of your experience, this isn’t the right place for you. We have found the more we stress that distinctiveness, the more we talk about it, the better off we are.” 

On how Marcus Freeman has found a way to sell Notre Dame in the NIL era:
“To be clear, we’re supporting true NIL activity. We want to create opportunities for our student-athletes to benefit. We’re engaged in that and we have a team of people working on it. They are true commercial activities based on real value and that’s good. 

“We are focusing on the broader picture. Our greatest asset is to talk about the success of our student-athlete alumni. We can point to people who have played football here at Notre Dame who are doing unbelievable things right now and having great success in their professional lives. That’s the essence of the conversation. Which of these looks better to you? The payments someone is offering you to come to school with no promise of anything else beyond that or the opportunity to become a CEO or a leader in government or a doctor or whatever it is you may want to pursue. 

“That’s been central to our notion. It is 4 for forever. The only way you can take advantage of that is if you go to a place that develops all the skills you need and empowers you. It doesn’t deliver it to you, it empowers you to have those benefits and reap those rewards.” 

On observations from watching Notre Dame’s football camp:
”The AD who built the schedule that starts at No 1 or No. 2 Ohio State should be brought into explain all that. There are huge challenges ahead for us. 

“The things I’m looking for when I’m at those practices and not just football, but all the practices - I see so clearly at these football practices - do I see team leadership? Do I see student-athletes given the freedom to take control of the activities leading their fellow students? That’s so apparent at our football practices. 

“Do I see a coaching staff of great teachers who like working with each other? I think this is the most cohesive coaching staff that we’ve had in my 14 years. Great coaches who like working together and spend a lot of time sharing ideas and making the team better. 

“Do you have somebody at the head of the program everyone looks to that commands the respect, but also sets the strategic vision for the program? Marcus is as good at that as anyone I’ve ever been around. He is such a great communicator. He’s so direct in his style of communication. He has a great vision of what he wants the program to be and it never varies. He’s so clear about bringing those expectations home to the student-athletes. 

“And that produces a great program whether you wind up 12-0 or 8-4. That has to do with injuries, opponents and everything else. What I’ll know either way is this program is in great shape.” 

On where Marcus Freeman has surprised him:
”I guess I call it his efficiency. How much he crams into the 19 hours he’s awake every day. He is so decisive and so quick to act. I’ve had to learn in my relationship with him that if I make a suggestion he’s likely to act on it. So I better be careful. I shouldn’t suggest it if I don’t intend for it to happen within the next 30 minutes. 

“That’s been delightful. I knew when I hired him with the whole dynamic with his family - having his kids at practice and the building as often they are and him encouraging the other coaches to do the same is just great. It feels like Notre Dame.”

Notre Dame Fighting Irish OHT Military Appreciation Lace-Up Pullover Hoodie

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.