What Is NIL?

What Is NIL?

college-football-team-nil-concept

Whether or not college athletes have a right to receive financial compensation has stirred controversy over the years. The supreme court decisively settled this contentious matter in the NCAA vs Alston case ruling delivered on the 21st of June 2021. This ruling opened the door for college athletes to be paid for the commercial use of their Name, Image, or Likeness (NIL).

The landmark ruling came against a backdrop of myriads of bills by lawmakers across several states vouching for the compensation of student-athletes by external sponsors. 

This article discusses what NIL is, and how student-athletes can benefit from the program. 

Understanding the Right of Publicity

For starters, we’ll explain the Right of Publicity to help you contextualize its relationship to NIL.

In its simplest form, the Right of Publicity is an intellectual property right that allows individuals to control the commercial exploitation of their identity. 

Over the years, attorneys have navigated the legal minefields of court cases and statutes of various states seeking clarity on the application of the Right of Publicity. With time, legislation on the same has developed. Presently, 35 states acknowledge the Right of Publicity, with varying interpretations regarding its applications and scope.

What Is the Meaning of NIL?

In general, NIL policy allows student-athletes to receive reasonable compensation for the use of their name, image, or likeness. 

This policy enables student-athletes to monetize themselves through endorsement deals from companies on and off college campus. 

College athletes may also earn in various other ways:

  • Appearances at events.
  • By writing books and other such materials.
  • Social media posts on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, etc.
  • Hosting training events and fitness boot camps. 

The revision of NCAA rules has unraveled a world of opportunities for student-athletes who previously only competed as amateurs. Before the adoption of NIL policy, student-athletes would only (legally) benefit from scholarships, and other minor fringe benefits, despite participating in a multi-million collegiate sports industry. 

How Does NIL Policy Help Collegiate Athletes?

NIL policy, though, comes with a rider. It’s not to be used as a pay-for-play arrangement or a bait to sway college recruitment.

That said, the policy is beneficial in numerous ways:

  • Athletes are increasingly opting to continue with their college studies. They don’t have to choose between their studies or a professional athletic career. An NIL policy allows student-athletes to earn money without compromising their educational pursuit. Although statistics to prove the growing retention of student-athletes in college remains scanty, examples are abound to demonstrate the policy impact of NIL. 
  • NIL can help athletes develop real-world business and financial skills that may not be available in a college classroom. They could gain valuable experience with the following:

All these promote their financial literacy.

State NIL Laws 

Student-athletes in PA, NY, and NJ states, in particular, are sufficiently protected by their respective states’ NIL Laws for NCAA. In a nutshell, their state laws stipulate a raft of measures to protect student-athletes.

For example:

  • The NY NIL laws for NCAA prohibit an institution from preventing a student of the college from participating in collegiate athletic competition and monetizing the use of their name, image, or likeness. Such an athlete-student will also remain eligible for student scholarships.
  • The NJ NIL laws for NCAA bar an institution of higher learning from membership in any athletic association (like the National Collegiate Association) if the institution forbids a student-athlete from participating in intercollegiate competitions. 
  • The PA NIL laws for NCAA stipulate that the remuneration of a student-athlete should be proportional to the prevailing market value for the athlete’s name, image, or likeness. Furthermore, the remuneration due to the athlete may not be exchanged, in part or whole, with such benefits as attendance, participation, or performance at a specified institution. 

Conclusion

The NIL policy was heralded as a major milestone in kick-starting the careers of student-athletes. They could start establishing their brands early while in college in anticipation of a professional athletic role, as they earn compensation, without jeopardizing their scholarships and academics. Whether you’re a Florida Gator, a Penn State Nittany Lion, Rutgers Scarlet Knight, or anything in between, Contact the Law Office of Elliott J. Brown today to learn more about NIL and how we can help you.

Adam Blaier, Esq.

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