For years the National Collegiate Association of Athletics has placed restrictions on student-athletes and how they can earn money. Schools and alumni can’t pay athletes without facing sanctions, but college athletes, long considered amateurs, also can’t earn money from advertising or endorsement deals. At the same time, colleges and universities sell merchandise and tickets using players’ names, images, and likenesses (NIL), garnering millions of dollars each year. In 2017, ESPN reported that the NCAA had more than a billion dollars in revenue for the 2016-2017 season, and that doesn’t even account for the money schools make. NCAA rules prohibited students from sharing a piece of that pie.
Now, the NCAA rules on students and how they can profit from their NIL is about to change. While the NCAA hasn’t yet finalized the legislation, the draft indicates that student-athletes may use their NIL to:
The NCAA will prohibit athletes from using school logos, names, trademarks, colors, or identifying information in these NIL activities. Student-athletes just can’t use their school, or anything identified with their school, while making money through NIL activities.
The NCAA will still prohibit student-athletes from:
To be clear, schools won’t be allowed to directly pay a student-athlete to use their name, image, and likeness, which still seems fundamentally unfair. But once the new legislation is in place, the world will change for many student-athletes. While some people worry about “professionalizing” the world of college sports, these changes will go a long way to undoing some basic unfairness that college student-athletes have faced for decades.
If you need guidance on intellectual property or sports and entertainment law, contact Carrie Ward at 856-354-7700 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.