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Notre Dame athletes in unfamiliar territory following NIL agreement

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For years, the debate has raged about whether student athletes should get paid.

On July 1st, the NCAA ruled student athletes can make money from their name, image or likeness. That has sparked a flurry of sponsorship agreements.

Many people didn't think we would ever see this in our lifetime. The topic of college athletes getting paid has garnered so much discussion in the last few years, people would almost rather talk about politics.

"As soon as the announcement came out, the very next day, we had a meeting about what we can and can't do, how they can help us, so we had that talk and we're working on different things about who can reach out to us," said Paul Atkinson Jr.

For student athletes, this is unfamiliar territory and many are taking it slow as they navigate this new world.

"I know that a few guys have taken advantage of that and done some things," said Dane Goodwin. "Myself personally, I haven't done much with it but it's something that I could look into and potentially explore some opportunities with it. I think it's great for us, and we'll work our way through it as the year goes on."

Professor Richard Sheehan at the University of Notre Dame is well versed in this topic, and he says that while no classes have been created to educate student athletes on the new agreement, the school will still be finding ways to help out.

"I think that you're going to see a collection of different activities at different universities because the NCAA has basically issued no guidance whatsoever and I think that's probably a smart move on the part of the NCAA because I look at the NCAA's decision-- my perspective on that is that they're deliberately passing the buck," said Sheehan.

Professor Sheehan has concerns. For years, many have felt the relationship between the student athlete body and the NCAA has been less than ideal.

Sheehan sees the potential for conflict over the NIL agreement, especially with it being such uncharted territory.

"It's kind of an open field, open area, where there will be some institutions that will push the envelope, there will certainly be some agents that will do everything that they can to get in and basically become an influencer or a marketer. There's no ground rules, because we haven't done this before and that is a major problem that I think really can't be understated."

Some athletes have already found sponsors, including the Irish Football offensive line, which is now sponsored by Jet's pizza.

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Shortly after the NCAA ruling earlier this month, Notre Dame President Father Jenkins released a statement saying: "I support the relaxing of NCAA prohibitions against student-athletes profiting from use of their own names, images, and likenesses for one simple reason -- other students are allowed to do so."

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