SBD/May 16, 2014/Colleges

Notre Dame's Jack Swarbrick Addresses Autonomy, CFP In Extensive Q&A

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Swarbrick thinks the government should play a role in college athletics' governance
Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick was a "prominent voice" in the ACC shifting its men's basketball tournament championship game back to Saturday and recently addressed college athletics' "rapidly mutating bigger picture" and how it is impacting his school, according to a two-part Q&A with Eric Hansen of the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. Excerpts of the interview are below.

On power conferences possibly being able to make their own rules....
Swarbrick: In the (designated and agreed upon) autonomous areas, yes. They have identified a series of specific areas that are those in which the 65 have the opportunity to adopt their own set of rules and regulations, things like athlete benefits, time management issues with the student-athletes -- specifically, dead periods -- nutrition.

On the NCAA's future with power conferences getting more autonomy....
Swarbrick: I think there’s a public perception that those 65 schools are all commonly aligned on all these issues. It’s just not true. And that’s a good thing. You want diverse views. But you look at the override vote on the $2,000 stipend proposal, and you’ll find a great amount of division among the 65 member institutions of the big five conferences over that issue

On stipends for student-athletes....
Swarbrick: That’s sort of the piece of this that has yet to be resolved in the sense: I think, in terms of the public discourse, the cart’s moved ahead of the horse. All we’re talking about right now is governance. And we’ve sort of affirmatively said, ‘We’re not going to get into any substantive issues until the governance is in place with the governance model.’ So you’ve got to get that worked out first and adopted. And then you get to take on these individual issues.

On the future of the student-athlete model....
Swarbrick: There’s going to be change. It’s too early to tell the scope and nature of that change. But for a lot of schools, it’s not about whether the model changes from what we have now. For a place like Notre Dame, it’s about whether the model changes in a way that’s inconsistent with our approach to collegiate athletics.

On Congressional involvement in college athletics....
Swarbrick: Well, you never know, but I think increasingly there’s a role for the federal government to play here. There’s so much going on, the pieces can’t be reconciled with each other. The unionization issues, the personal-property rights issues and the antitrust issues may produce inconsistent results, and you need some way to work your way through those. And that may be hard to do without the government playing some role (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 5/14).

On whether student-athletes should have more of a voice in the autonomous structure....
Swarbrick: "The more student-athlete engagement and participation in the governance process, the better. I'm all for it."

On a Top 25 national football poll now being released in late October....
Swarbrick: "Nobody should be issuing polls before the season starts, in my judgement. Who has any clue? But having enough weeks under your belt to have a real substantive evaluation and then issue a ranking, I think that will help inform everybody."

On whether the CFP will remain at four teams through the life of its initial 12-year contract....
Swarbrick: "Who knows? That was our goal. That's why we structured it the way we did. It's both our intention and hope" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 5/15). 
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