The Eccker 10 – Marty Auer
Notre Dame is a brand recognized worldwide. The history that envelops the school as an academic institution, as well as a college football powerhouse, is nearly unmatched. For Sophomore Safety Marty Auer, not only does Notre Dame represent all that and more, but his status as an athlete at Notre Dame also represents a unique opportunity to market himself and capitalize on his name, image, and likeness.
Auer, the recipient of the 2022 Scout Team Player of the Year award in Notre Dame’s football program, has spent his entire collegiate career working towards maximizing the value he brings as a walk-on to the Notre Dame football team. Eccker Sports caught up with Marty as he provided insights on not only building the value he brings his team, but also maximizing his own personal brand value through NIL.
Tyler: What is your greatest memory as an athlete?
Marty: The first-round playoff game of our junior year has to be the best memory I have as an athlete. We’re playing school rivals Maine South at their house, I obviously wasn’t a senior yet so as was the tradition I had to shave my head for the playoffs. We showed up at their house, I had to get a baby shave before the game, and then I proceeded to ball out. I blocked a kick and then had a pick-six, which I still count even though it was called back for a questionable penalty. It was just such an electric game, and we ended up winning and advancing to the next round. It was so much fun.
Tyler: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an athlete and how were you able to work past it?
Marty: Probably the transition to college. In high school, you think you’re a good player. Then you get to college, and especially as a walk-on, everyone is so good, so you have to deal with being at the bottom of the totem pole. You have to have some respect and know your place. It’s important to roll with the punches and maximize the value you can bring to the team. I was definitely able to do that with the help of some of the other guys. There are seniors who have been great leaders, and they’ve taught me the best way to keep my attitude right and keep my head up. That’s important. It’s easy to get down in the dumps, but having older guys help you make sure you’re in the right headspace is great.
Tyler: Do you have any unique or hidden talents?
Marty: I’m pretty good at chess. I don’t know if that’s much of a talent, but I think I’m a pretty good chess player.
Tyler: What was your first NIL deal?
Marty: The first one was with a local shop here at Notre Dame. They invited a ton of guys down and we went over, took some pictures at the shop, signed some photos, and then got paid a few bucks for it. This was very early in the NIL era, like last July when everything passed.
“There were definitely people who unfortunately got locked into deals, whether it be with agents or marketing companies where the companies were able to take a cut of however much income the athlete earned. Getting those educational resources early and allowing myself to be educated helped me stay away from those types of traps.”
– Marty Auer
Tyler: How has NIL impacted your experience as an athlete?
Marty: It’s given me a lot more opportunities, for example, the Irish Players Club (NIL organization at Notre Dame) has been great. People reach out now on Instagram to sponsor us, and I run a Tik Tok now too so I’m able to document what I go through as an athlete. Being able to be compensated for all of that gives me more opportunities and more avenues to generate income and help myself.
Tyler: How do you determine which brands to partner with?
Marty: There are some industries, whether it’s weed or gambling companies that will reach out, and those are things I just don’t want to be associated with. Things like that are really easy to filter out. If it’s something that I wouldn’t personally use or recommend to a friend, then I would feel disingenuous posting about it on my account and almost fake promoting something to make money.
Tyler: How do you educate yourself on NIL?
Marty: Notre Dame has done a great job for us. There are a ton of resources given to us by the school. We have this thing called the “Gold Center”, where you can go in there and ask questions about NIL. To be honest, I haven’t really used that, I’m kind of just learning as I go and making decisions based on what I think is the best for me, which probably isn’t the best way to go, but I’ve been able to succeed thus far.
Tyler: How has education played a role in your NIL experience?
Marty: Education has absolutely helped. It was especially helpful in the beginning when everything was so new. People would try to get you into these deals where they lock you in, so being able to realize those things and avoid them before NIL really took off was crucial. There were definitely people who unfortunately got locked into deals, whether it be with agents or marketing companies where the companies were able to take a cut of however much income the athlete earned. Getting those educational resources early and allowing myself to be educated helped me stay away from those types of traps.
Tyler: If you could change one thing about NIL and how it’s worked so far, what would it be?
Marty: I don’t really know how this would be enforced, but staying away from the pay-for-play type stuff. I know all of that is technically illegal and not allowed, but everyone knows that it happens at places and that there are benefits being given. Like I said, I don’t know what would have to happen or what rules would need to be passed but I’d like to see that go away.
Tyler: What piece of advice would you give to high school athletes as they start their NIL journeys?
Marty: I’d definitely just tell them to explore as many things as possible. I think my Tik Tok is a good example of that. In the beginning, it’s kind of scary to wonder what people will think, and it’s tough to get comfortable posting stuff whether it be on Tik Tok, Instagram, or Twitter. It’s important to try and grow your audience as much as possible because there are people out there who want to see what you do and want to see the things that interest you. Having the ability to not care what other people think about you is so important. Do you really care what 99% of the people who follow you on social media think? That’s a big one for me because the people whose opinions you do care about will support you no matter what. Just being able to post things that interest you or things that describe your daily life is huge, so I’d encourage people to explore as much of that as possible.