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Notre Dame Basketball

Mike Brey Updates Ven-Allen Lubin's Status & NIL in College Basketball

February 7, 2023

The 2022-23 basketball season will be Mike Brey’s last at Notre Dame and it has been challenging at every corner. 

Notre Dame’s latest hurdle has been playing without freshmen big men Ven-Allen Lubin and Dom Campbell as both are battling through injuries. Campbell will miss at least the next two weeks with swelling in his Achilles, while Lubin has battled a tendon issue in his foot.

Lubin hasn’t played since the road trip to NC State on January 24th, but Brey is hopeful the 6-foot-8 forward will return to the lineup on Wednesday as Notre Dame plays at Georgia Tech. 

“I think we’re able to get him into practice today (Monday),” explained Brey. “I’m hoping we can get him two days of practice and get him back in our rotation on Wednesday. Made some progress over the weekend and that’s encouraging. We want him in there and need him in there. I’m hoping, fingers crossed, the next two days of practice go well.” 

The injury has been tricky as Lubin has tried to play through it, but even the smallest contact has impacted his ability to play, which is far from ideal for a player who will be in the paint for most of the game. 

“He keeps tweaking the area and it’s not quite like a sprained ankle,” Brey said. “It’s back behind the ankle a little bit near the heel. The one tweak was not a twist. He got kicked on it and just pulled up. It’s been painful. You can tell when it’s bothering him because he’s running different. I’m excited to see him in practice today and we need him. Hopefully, we can keep him healthy for these last 9-10 games.” 

Brey was also asked about the NIL era during Monday’s ACC teleconference, including what guard rails could be potentially put in place to help control collectives or boosters offering cash to recruits and transfers.

“It’s really not name, image and likeness right now,” stated Brey. “It’s really pay-for-play. We’re trying to stay away from that. It got off the rails on us. 

“I think the No. 1 thing is the universities have to disclose the deals. You must disclose what the deals are and what the numbers are. Maybe that’s a start. I know there is a lot of misinformation, but talking to some people, they think that could be a really good start. We’re going to need some help from Congress.”

There is no doubt pay-for-play is happening in certain instances across all sports. 2023 quarterback Jaden Rashada was offered over $13 million dollars to attend Florida per The Athletic (Jaden Rashada’s unprecedented recruitment: How a 4-star QB went from $13.85 million to no NIL deal) and while the dollar figures might stand alone, NIL continues to be a hot topic. 

“This is a really tricky one,” Brey stated. “It moves so fast. We’re all kind of hanging on for dear life with it. I’m optimistic because of the new leadership with the NCAA and his background as far as getting some congressional help on this.” 

In fact, Brey admitted the NIL and Transfer Portal did factor into his decision to step away from the Notre Dame program following the season. 

“I think the current climate was definitely part of it,” explained Brey. “Not a major part of it, but when you looked at moving forward and how to manage it, it was exhausting. I know some other veteran guys have decided to move out of it. I kind of lived in it for two years and you’re looking at how your managing that. 

“Managing that within the mission of the University of Notre Dame was complicated. It was definitely a factor. I also think 23 years, they’re probably tired of my voice a little bit. You have to know when it’s time. I would see myself coaching again someday. As far as Notre Dame, it’s been unbelievable and a great run.” 

There is no doubt the NCAA needs to find some guidelines for NIL moving forward and could the Transfer Portal process be tweaked? Potentially, but Notre Dame’s 2023 hoops signees are experiencing why the Transfer Portal was put into place as Brey is leaving before they even step on campus, so is it fair for them to play for someone who might not have wanted them or for someone they don’t want to play for? 

And yes, Notre Dame did release Brady Dunlap and Parker Friedrichsen from their letters of intent, but coaches come and go every year across college athletics. 

The statements from Brey are a far cry from those of Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman in December.

"We can't pick and choose when we want to embrace that,” Freeman said. “We want to embrace it when we sell Notre Dame, right? You can play top-notch caliber football. The best. Be developed. But you're also getting an education that is top-notch. We can't sell that to high school kids and then when the Transfer Portal comes, who cares about that education and want the best football player. We can't do that. We can't pick and choose.” 

Notre Dame is in the process of finding a new basketball coach and while the next guy doesn’t need to be 110% into NIL and the portal, it’s important he or she embraces the challenge and can adapt to an ever-changing landscape in college athletics. And of course, it won’t be all sunshine, but it’s critical to keep moving the program forward despite the challenges. 

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