Notre Dame athletes sign unique NIL deal with Indiana church

1796 Sports
2 min readJan 27, 2023

Recently 5 Notre Dame student-athletes signed up for a unique NIL deal.

Football players Tobias Merriweather, Holden Staes, and JD Bertrand, and basketball players Nate Laszewski and JJ Starling reached a deal with County Line Church of God in Auburn, Indiana.

The deal involves the player taking part in the church’s annual “Souper Bowl Sunday” festivities, which will include an autograph signing session. According to the church, the event will be a “one-of-a-kind service that mimics the Super Bowl and is packed with fun elements.” 2023 will be the 9th year that the church is hosting the event, but this will be the 1st involving student-athletes.

The players will be available for autographs after the 9:30 and 11 am services conclude. A food pantry drive will also take place to benefit the residents of DeKalb County. The church is also hosting its annual Chicken Wing Sale, with all proceeds benefitting the County Line Student Ministry. The event is being sponsored by Brad Dove Realtor- Keller Williams Realty Group.

Dove spoke with The NIL Deal to provide additional details on the event.

When asked how the deal came about, Dove said he and his family have been members of County Line Church of God for 17 years. “Our director of hospitality contacted me,” said Dove. “She was aware of the division of Keller Williams Realty (Keller Williams Sports + Entertainment) I am a member of and asked if I had any connections to Notre Dame players.”

Luckily for the church, Dove has a connection who is a season ticket holder for Notre Dame football and basketball. This connection reached out to players and the aforementioned 5 players were quick to sign up.

When asked if this was his first foray into the NIL space, Dove said yes. However, he does not think of this as “just a NIL deal.”

“This does happen to be my first NIL deal however, I didn’t consider it to be a NIL deal,” said Dove. “My number one thought was that if doing it brings people to church that maybe don’t attend church (not necessarily our church but hopefully they decide to keep attending church somewhere after this event), then I am happy that I could assist in any way.”

Dove mentioned that the pastor of County Line Church of God is a “huge” Notre Dame fan. The ability to help student-athletes, bring people to church, and let churchgoers meet college athletes seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up for Dove. While this is the 1st NIL involvement for Dove, do not expect it to be his last. “I plan to continue to find creative ways to come up with events outside of the church in the future,” said Dove.

This event goes to show how creative some groups are being with NIL. Instead of simply handing out money, people like Brad Dove are holding multi-purpose events that benefit student-athletes and the surrounding communities.

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