More Story: ND AD Jack Swarbrick on state of college athletics

IRISH STEW

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Yesterday, we posted a story online on Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick's presentation on the future of college athletics, specifically his take on what would need to change for the Irish football program to ditch its independence and join a conference.

But that's not all Swarbrick had to say.

Below, Swarbrick gives his take on a myriad of issues.

Jack Swarbrick

On the Showtime series "A Season with Notre Dame":

“We were approached with the opportunity to do this, and I think one of the reasons we were approached is our football independence. It was a little easier to work with us because of that independence. I could not be more pleased with the show. I think it has given great insights into the personality of our students and our coach educators.

"It lets you see behind the scenes, and I think it has reinforced the messages we’re trying to send about college athletics and what it should be. Our principal reason for doing this is because we believe in this national debate that’s going on, against all cynicism that exists, it’s nice to offer a little bit of a balance point that lets you see these young men, all they go through, all they achieve and the relationships they have with each other and their coaches.”

On conference realignment:

“It has certainly subsided. I think, given the nature of the broadcast agreements and certainly media rights were a driving force in a lot of the conference realignment, given that those media agreements and the assignment of individual school rights as part of those are now locked in for a decade, I suspect that we’ll see relative stability. There may be some movement below what is viewed as the ‘Big 5’ conferences, but I think for the remainder of the next 10 years, it will be fairly stable.

"Beyond that, as they approach new media agreements, I think there’s always the chance that there will be some reconsideration of affiliations. I hope not, and if there is, I hope it’s not significant in size or scope. I don’t think we did ourselves, as college athletics, any favors in the last round of realignment.”

On the NCAA potentially splitting into a league that pays players and a league that doesn't:

“I’m not worried at all with the consequence of a bifurcated system like that, because we talk to a lot to our peers in the industry and it’s very clear to us that most of the schools with which we view ourselves in common, most of the schools we play on a regular basis would, like us, opt for the model that continues to preserve the athlete as student relationship. I don’t think you’d see much change.”

On the many lawsuits facing the NCAA:

“That’s one of many cases. Lawsuits are stacked up like planes at LaGuardia and it’s a fool’s errand to try to predict their outcome. They tend to all revolve around this issue of the relationship between the student who participates in athletics and the university. We’ll just have to work our way through them.

"Is a student who devotes so much time to athletics an employee? That’s a central question. Can they maximize or use their name, image and likeness? Are they subject to wage-an-hour rules or workers compensation? Should we be allowed to have any rules, any controls, on the number of scholarships and what’s involved in a scholarship? Those are all cases that are lined up here, and we have to work our way through them.”

On the decision to make men's basketball and hockey games free for students:

“We did it for two reasons. One is that we just don’t want any obstacles to students being able to come and support their fellow students at sports events – at least, as few as possible. We saw this as an opportunity to do that. Secondly, frankly we needed a better understanding of when students are coming and how many are coming.

"Through the mechanism of selling effectively only season tickets at the front end, we’d have to hold that number of seats per game, plus some. We wound up on a game by game basis with major gaps between who showed up and who didn’t. It didn’t make for a great environment.

"The system of allowing students to come free does ask them to come online and secure their entry, so we get a better head count. We have a much greater idea of how many students will attend. It allows us to sell those seats, if they’re not going to attend, to other people. It’ll create a better environment in both venues for our teams.”

On Notre Dame football financially supporting the university's 25 other athletics programs:

“You have to look at this, as we do, in the entire context of the enterprise, and not two sports. It’s absolutely true that the revenue from football effectively supports the other 25 sports. That’s not an unusual model for a university. There are portions of a university that produce revenue to support other portions that do not.

"That same model exists within athletics. I don’t apologize for that. I think it’s marvelous that we can have a system where we can support opportunities for over 700 students to experience the benefits of athletics, and the way we do that is by pooling the funds and not segregating them by sport. I think that’s a good thing.”

On allowing student-athletes to explore professional options and representation:

“I do think there’s a benefit in finding ways to allow students to explore their opportunities and make a decision to return to school if they’re not evaluated as highly as they might want to be by their professional sports. I do think more flexibility in that. The better information we can get to our students about those options, the better off we are.

"So for example, I think almost certainly there will be a relaxation of the rules regarding being represented by agents. Let’s allow students, as we do any student, to get better information about their future options to make informed choices. I think if we do that we’ll see fewer students make the wrong choice, to make a bad decision based on the self-interest of someone who is trying to get them to leave school, and make more informed decisions.”

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick congratulates Max Redfield (10) following the 38-3 win over Texas on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN