Over a half a million student-athletes participate in collegiate sports each year. As of July 1, 2021, the NCAA’s “interim policy” finally allowed those student athletes to earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) recognition.
Big money is at stake: Alabama’s quarterback reportedly already made nearly $1,000,000 and an incoming Tennessee State University basketball player signed a $2,000,000 endorsement deal. A University of Miami booster allegedly offered a $540,000 NIL endorsement deal to all Hurricanes scholarship football players to get his “city firmly behind [that] team.”
But what really is a student athlete’s “name, image, and likeness?” At its core, NIL is the intellectual property of the student athlete and is governed by state-specific law. In Texas, for example, “the tort of misappropriation provides protection from the unauthorized appropriation of one’s name, image or likeness.” That is, NIL is the right of the student athlete to profit from (and prevent others from profiting on) his or her public persona.
Many questions remain unanswered by the NCAA’s interim NIL policy. While student athletes have waited a long time to obtain compensation for the value they deserve, rushing into an NIL deal has substantial risk. A student athlete should first know the answer to several, very important questions:
Many other questions remain. One answer is certain: you should seek the advice of a professional to help you navigate these muddy waters. And the NCAA’s interim policy helps—for the first time, student athletes can utilize a “professional services provider” such as an attorney for NIL activities without jeopardizing NCAA eligibility.
The lawyers of the Howard Legal Group have expertise in intellectual property matters and have worked with major universities for enforcing and licensing their intellectual property. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits and risks of a NIL agreement, please contact us for a free consultation.
 Hearing Before the United State Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (June 9, 2021) (Written Testimony of Dr. Mark Emmert, President, National Collegiate Athletic Association)
 Brown v. Ames, 201 F.3d 654, 657 (5th Cir. 2000).