The NCAA now allows college athletes to profit from their own name, image, and likeness (“NIL”). This has created a plethora of opportunities for male and female collegiate athletes to earn income from their NIL while engaged in college athletics. NIL opportunities include advertisements, fee appearances at stores and events, autograph signings, the ability to offer paid private coaching sessions, and countless other opportunities. Additionally, social media allows collegiate athletes to monetize exposure and gain financial opportunity through NIL.
However, there are certain restrictions regarding how student-athletes are permitted to benefit from the NIL legislation. Strict compliance with the new NIL laws is imperative to ensure that student-athletes do not jeopardize their eligibility. Because the NIL legislation is still in its infancy, student-athletes should consider retaining independent counsel before engaging in any NIL opportunities.
Retaining an experienced attorney is crucial to understand what conduct is permissible or prohibited under the rules. The NCAA recently released new guidance in an attempt to clarify these rules. For example, the newly released guidance explained that schools cannot, provide free services (graphic designers, tax preparation or contract review) to student-athletes unless those services are available to the general student body, nor can schools offer equipment (cameras, graphics software or computers) to student-athletes to support NIL activities, unless that equipment is also available to the general student body.
NIL opportunities involve both intellectual property rights and contract law. Both are specialized areas of the law that require careful consideration and review by an experienced attorney. Most NIL deals will be unique to the athletes involved. Thus, collegiate athletes should work with an attorney in order to help them better understand not only the financial terms of the contract, but also the long-term implications of signing the contract.
The experienced attorneys at Bitman O’Brien & Morat can assist collegiate athletes with NIL issues by:
- Drafting and/or reviewing contracts related to NIL opportunities
- Offering legal advice for those athletes entering into an NIL relationship with a business or third party
- Providing representation for collegiate athletes for all NIL related compliance and enforcement issues
- Counseling collegiate athletes about how to maximize the benefits from NIL while remaining in compliance with NCAA bylaws
- Working together with university compliance officers to ensure that the university is NCAA compliant