Everything You Need to Know About Name, Image and Likeness in College and High School Sports – NBC Chicago


The school begins. That means new textbooks, new clothes — and maybe a few new name, image, and likeness deals for college and high school athletes looking to earn some money.

Whether it’s social media posts, in-person appearances, hosting sports camps (or even fishing tournaments), the ability to cash in is still relatively new for athletes. Here’s what you need to know as the era of athlete compensation enters its second full sports season.

What has been the impact on college sports?

To hear the coaches tell it, the NIL deals either helped get them the players they were looking for, or it’s just another level of competition to land the most elite athletes. Remember the fight in May between Nick Saban, the trainer of perennial national title contender Alabama, and rival Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M – with Saban’s team foray into criticism of Jackson State and of his famous trainer, Deion Sanders.

Many athletes have become entrepreneurs and some have agents. NIL has also allowed athletes to enter the transfer portal looking not only for a different team, but also for a better chance of getting more money from companies, brands or the many collectives that are pushing everywhere since the July 2021 launch of the NIL era.

Why did it take so long?

NIL’s flourishing began with a seed: a 2009 class action lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon who argued that the NCAA should not be allowed to use the likeness of football players and men’s basketball – past and present – to make money. O’Bannon won on the antitrust track.

In June 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schools cannot limit educational benefits for athletes, overturning NCAA rules that prevented students from being paid or getting financial support beyond full scholarships.

In anticipation of the ruling, California led the United States to pass a NIL bill in 2019, forcing the NCAA to pave the way on July 1, 2021, for athletes to earn endorsement money and pitch a rush to other states.

What are NIL offers?

Social media posts are the top activity athletes get paid for, followed by license fees, autographs/appearances, and camps or running lessons. The money comes from brands, fans and donors. In many states, athletes are not allowed to endorse alcohol, tobacco, or sports betting.

Who regulates NIL transactions?

This is a state-by-state situation, and while the laws are largely the same, there are variations.

Many states allow a third party to connect companies with athletes for NIL offers.

In Georgia, schools can ask athletes to pool up to 75% of their NIL money to share with other athletes, but it’s not a requirement. In Connecticut, athletes can use their school’s logo if the school agrees. And the NIL contracts that Louisiana athletes report to their universities are considered confidential.

A few states, including Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota, do not have NIL laws for college athletes. In these cases, varsity athletes must comply with NCAA guidelines and interim policy. The NCAA says schools can’t engage in “pay-for-play” or violate recruiting laws, which means athletes can’t get NIL money to play for a school or for their athletic performance.

The NCAA does not oversee compliance for reporting NIL transactions or compliance with state laws. It either depends on the school or the athlete, depending on the rules of that state. But the NCAA recently requested that member schools assist in any investigation of potential violations.

Why is there no national NIL law?

It’s not for lack of trying. The NCAA and a few Power Five conference leaders have called for federal legislation. Two members of the US Senate – Republican Tommy Tuberville, the former Auburn coach, and Democrat Joe Manchin – are drafting a bill and want to hear from the SEC commissioner and others on how to change the NIL laws . But there has been no real movement in Washington.

Some states have “right of publicity” laws, which allow an individual to decide whether their name or likeness may be used for commercial purposes. Such a federal law does not exist.

The NCAA itself could establish a national NIL policy for its three divisions, though the organization has pushed for federal legislation instead.

Who benefits from the NIL?

Male athletes lead in NIL activities – 62.7% compared to 37.3% for women, according to the NIL Opendorse platform. Football players and male basketball players received the highest percentage of offers when looking at the full list of college sports (based on data reported by Opendorse and other platforms NIL INFLCR and Athliance).

A few women’s sports tend to follow these two, especially basketball, volleyball, softball, and gymnastics.

The money is largely concentrated in Division I athletics, although DII, DIII and NAIA players have been able to get deals.

The more niche the sport, the less likely it is to strike successful deals; think tennis, field hockey, ice hockey and rowing. But there are exceptions, as Water Ski and Rifle see average bids of around $1,400 and $6,000, respectively.

Can high school athletes participate in the gold rush?

It depends on where they live. More than a dozen states are fine with high school students entering into NUL agreements, and more have considered it.

What’s next for NIL?

More money and maybe more regulation.

Opendorse forecasts $1.14 billion in NIL contracts in 2022-23, with Power Five conference schools holding the largest share and, by region, the Southeast. Collectives will play an important role in the growth of NIL as they seek to organize and fundraise for specific athletes at the school. Look for states without NIL laws to add laws — and states with laws to keep tinkering.

The NCAA is also facing another lawsuit, which is currently before the 3rd United States Circuit Court of Appeals, which argues that athletes should be recognized as employees of their schools.


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