Last week, Swarbrick came out with a statement on Notre Dame’s stance in regard to the new EA Sports college football video game and name, image, likeness (NIL) issues.
When asked about the urgency he took in issuing the statement, Swarbrick said it wasn’t urgent but rather just the “right time.”
“It was the right time to do it for two reasons,” he said. “One is EA Sports had come to us asking for the license. I’ve read a lot of places where people said, ‘Gosh, the game’s not coming out until 2022 sometime.'”
He said EA Sports needed Notre Dame’s license to develop the game, to build in various teams and they needed to provide an answer — that was the driving force.
“No. 2 was there’s a lot of discussion obviously going on nationally — bills being introduced in Congress, etc. And I wanted to call more attention to this issue of group licensing,” he said. “And for the student-athletes to participate in a video game has to involve some resolution of that issue — how are they all able to participate? What’s the process look like?”
When it comes to legal issues regarding name, image and likeness, Swarbrick said he has no better understanding than most people do.
“I have no better sense — I actually have a lesser sense of what it will be,” he said. “Because you’ve got all these states, all these federal pieces of legislation being proposed.”
He said there is more uncertainty than ever about what the final rules will be, especially with a pending U.S. Supreme Court case involving the NCAA.
He said he does view NIL, in some capacity, as a certainty, though.
“So no, I don’t have any better feel for it,” he said. “That it will be in place, that it’s coming this year, I view as a certainty.”
Swarbrick discussed how the COVID exemption year — allowing an additional year of eligibility — will work within the framework of 85-man rosters in 2022 and beyond.
The Fighting Irish have more than 60 players on the 2021 Irish roster with freshman eligibility and just three with expiring eligibility.
When asked how the team will add recruits and manage the roster, Swarbrick said they have a plan.
“I don’t want to minimize the difficulty of it, but in a lot of ways I think we are much better positioned than a lot of schools, because our players and our coaches are as focused on the academic side of this as they are the athletic,” he said.
Swarbrick said some guys may choose to transfer to someplace where they think they can play some more with that extra eligibility, while some may choose to get on with their careers.
“So I think we’ll manage it, but what I ask all our coaches to do is be very transparent with our student-athletes,” he said. “I don’t want anybody surprised, that all of a sudden an opportunity they thought they had, they don’t have. And our coaches have been great about that.”
Swarbrick said although all the kinks aren’t worked out in terms of bringing fans back for the annual spring scrimmage, he believes the school’s fall plans are likely to be the blueprint — this includes students, faculty and staff.
The team has currently paused winter workouts, but Swarbrick said he thinks the team will get back to the field soon.
“Just a little more testing to be done,” he said. “I’m encouraged by the processes we’ve put in place to try and get through the spring.