Mendoza School of Business

VeNard Helping Navigate NIL for Athletes

Author: Marshall King

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Claire VeNard – Sr Assoc Dir Strategic Initiative, Athletics Director

Navigating Name Image Likeness

Claire VeNard is helping Notre Dame students navigate the new and changing landscape of Name Image Likeness.

Since summer 2021, the NCAA has allowed athletes to earn money by selling the rights to their NILs. She talked to students in the Customer Engagement Analytics class at the Mendoza College of Business about the challenges and opportunities created by the historic change. 

In 2022, Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick convened a committee to work on Notre Dame’s strategy and approach. VeNard, a retired attorney who has worked in Notre Dame Athletics since 2014, focused on student development. She’s now Senior Associate Athletics Director working on this strategic initiative.

“It’s been a unique experience because of how rapidly it changes and how much ambiguity there is over what is possible and what isn’t possible,” she said.

Student-athletes nationally are using social media to promote businesses that compensate them or even market their own lines of merchandise. Knowing both the range of possibilities but also what’s not allowed is the challenge.

VeNard’s Mission

Her mission is to help each student grow as a person, an athlete, a student, and as a professional.

“We’re really trying to figure out, what’s the goal? How is our NIL approach an extension of our mission?” she said.

VeNard is helping students maximize opportunities and capitalize on those that fit overall personal and professional goals. “We’re not so focused on what’s happening at other schools as much as how we’re serving student-athletes and their goals in this space,” she said.

NIL Projects

Students in the Customer Engagement Analytics class learned about opportunities open to any student, not just those in athletics. They then worked on their own possible NIL project. “At its core, it’s marketing work. So how do you use this opportunity to develop a marketing plan for yourself that furthers your personal and professional marketing goals,” she said. The projects reinforced that they are much more than athletes. They have interests, skills, and goals that range far more widely than an athletic field. Josh Lugg working with others to start a real estate company is one example. Another is student-athletes working with a clothing company that can provide suits that fit them better than those off the rack. “All of them did a really nice job thinking through what this might look like for them,” she said of the students in the class.

Student-athletes have so much agency to choose whether and how to participate. She urges them to negotiate, but with her law experience, she can’t help students with the contract due to NIL rules. Notre Dame is working on creating clinics on campus for all students to help them navigate the landscape.

VeNard is glad students are able to be compensated for work such as conducting a clinic in their hometown. “In its purest form, I think this is an opportunity student-athletes should have had a long time ago. If you trust them to make decisions that are responsible, it’s a good thing. They have more opportunities,” she said.



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