Colleges look to influence agencies to navigate NIL laws

Not all schools are created equal

NCAA’s new Interim NIL Policy, effective July 1, 2021, allows college athletes to use their name, image, and likeness to seek out branded partnerships and sponsorship deals, which were previously unavailable only for professional level athletes. But the new laws are uneven and there is a lack of uniformity, prompting many schools to partner with outside agencies to make sure they don’t go out of bounds or to uncover loopholes in which they are. could benefit from the new laws.

Jason A. Setchen, an attorney in Florida who represents several professional athletes and has spoken to colleges and athletes about the new NIL laws, explains that what the NIL laws have done has effectively deferred the rights of conferences and universities to establish their own rules and regulations regarding the use of the name, image, and likeness of student-athletes, but they must first follow state laws on the NIL. This complicates the issues because there are only a handful of US states that have active laws in place, and many are in the process of introducing new laws, making it difficult to follow up, he says. In Florida, for example, which introduced a new law on July 1, student-athletes can only receive market value for their services, and the agents they work with must be sports agents registered in the state of Florida. .

“States have certain restrictions and limitations and other states don’t even have NIL laws, so it’s purely motivated by conferences and universities,” Setchen explains. “It’s a very complex landscape right now, and until it’s clear it will be filled with landmines.”

Colleges and universities, he says, are all trying to find ways to make the new NIL laws work for them. “It’s a big change in the way schools make money from merchandising and other things they’ve done historically to make money,” Setchen explains. “They have to solve the name, image and likeness issue and they have to share the income or they have to involve the student athletes in the process, which they didn’t have to do before. It’s a learning curve.

Whether schools can organize or facilitate NIL opportunities for their athletes, such as through licensing agreements, is not expressly addressed in the new interim policy, and may not be addressed by NIL laws. state, says Baker. The Fair Play Act prohibits schools from remunerating their athletes directly and from “caus[ing] compensation to be paid to “athletes”.

“This language, which may also appear in other state’s NIL laws, would seem to mean that there is a limit to how schools can be involved in facilitating NIL agreements for their athletes,” says Baker. “On the other hand, it will be difficult to pinpoint exactly where that line is, because these laws and this market are so new.”

One opportunity schools are turning to, says Baker, is to work collaboratively with student-athletes through licensing programs. For example, the use of jerseys is no longer allowed in a school’s marketing efforts because there is a name, image and likeness issue. But a school can still market these jerseys if it shares the profits with the students involved. This way, schools can say that they are not involved in making deals themselves and are simply approving the use of their brands. The school and the athletes can benefit financially from these new arrangements. Several schools are already doing this. In August, for example, the University of Texas partnered with the Brandr Group to launch a licensing program for its student-athletes, allowing them to take advantage of opportunities using their name, image and likeness as well as UT official marks and logos.

“Now fans can purchase Texas Longhorns items like jerseys and t-shirts and support their favorite players, something we’ve never been able to do before, and student-athletes can take advantage of those sales through their deal. with Brandr, ”Chris Del Conte, UT’s vice president and athletic director, said in a statement.

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