The conversation for a large part of this recruiting cycle has been about what the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will do in regards of their NIL situation. One debate after another has sprung up about what the Irish can do with name, image, and likeness — and what they should do.
The devil is in the details, and Notre Dame isn’t nearly as accustomed to certain recruiting tactics as other programs across the country. Everything must be above board despite the lack of interest by the NCAA to get involved in any type of monitoring.
Enter the F.U.N.D. as a NIL 3rd party collective.
The name is an acronym for Friends of the University of Notre Dame. For some older fans and alumni, the name may bring about old and negative connotations about “friends of the program” but the mission of the group is quite profound.
Friends of the University of Notre Dame Inc (“FUND”) is a nonprofit that uses the Name, Image and Likeness of University of Notre Dame student-athletes to help promote charitable organizations that they are passionate about.
University of Notre Dame student-athletes will support nonprofits to help fulfill their charitable missions by doing philanthropic work in the community in a variety of different capacities. The student-athlete will receive a stipend and the charity that they are an ambassador for will receive a financial donation.
The Athletic’s Pete Sampson reported that the F.U.N.D. board of directors includes Brady Quinn, Tom Mendoza (yes that Mendoza), Jason Sapp, and Pat Eilers. Over Easter weekend, a source spoke to me about Pat Eilers and his eagerness to be involved with NIL for Notre Dame. Among other contributions to the university, Pat has endowed the Defensive Backs/Safeties coaching position. The chance to help Irish athletes achieve their goals in the classroom, on the field, and within the community really intrigued him.
Brady Quinn was another that saw what this kind of NIL collective could be at Notre Dame. Quinn told Sampson:
“The goal is to provide these student-athletes with the opportunity to be able to take a portion of their time and receive compensation for it, but really falling under the guidelines of God, Country, Notre Dame causes that are bigger than yourself, and that’s what this is all about.”
For months I have spoken about the “stomach of Notre Dame fans and alumni” when it comes to NIL. The F.U.N.D. is the perfect blend of what Notre Dame’s mission for its student athletes is, and makes it much more palatable to those fans and alumni. Notre Dame is never going to be the school that has a “pay for play” like platform — and that’s perfectly fine as long as things like this exist.
What’s great about this venture is that it doesn’t interfere with other NIL opportunities that may arise for Notre Dame’s student athletes. So, if the offensive line wants to get in an unholy alliance with Papa John’s, they are perfectly free to do so. That same offensive line can be a part of the Irish Player’s Club — and some members from that offensive line can be involved with the F.U.N.D.
It’s all right there, and is up and running right now. This isn’t a collective of message board warriors (although anyone can contribute). The men that are running this truly care about Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish student athletes.
We wondered WHAT was going to happen, and now we finally have a clearer picture moving forward.