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NCAA Name, Image, Likeness Rule

IMG female students together

College sports are undergoing a major shift, all because of one important question: Should college athletes be paid? In June 2021, the NCAA responded by implementing an interim policy on name, image and likeness, or NIL, allowing student-athletes to make money from their personal brand. However, it can be a bit complex to navigate.

NIL laws vary by state, meaning your state may or may not have its own NIL regulations you must adhere to. Whether high school students can participate in NIL activities depends on the rules set by your state’s high school sports association. Additionally, colleges and universities often have their own unique rules for NIL.

Our guide aims to simplify NIL rules for high school athletes and parents involved in the recruiting process. Understanding what’s allowed and what’s not can ensure your eligibility for college sports and maximize your potential for future NIL opportunities.

What does NIL mean? What is the right of publicity?

Name, image and likeness (or NIL) are the three elements that make up “right of publicity”, a legal concept used to prevent or allow the use of an individual to promote a product or service. For example, if an athlete’s photograph is taken while wearing an athletic brand, and that brand uses the photo to promote their products without the athlete’s consent, that athlete could claim the brand is in violation of the right of publicity.

The right of publicity is generally used to protect against the misuse of an individual’s name, image and likeness for commercial promotion. However, the NCAA has been scrutinized for years, as critics say the NCAA takes advantage of student-athletes by using their name, image and likeness for profit, while not allowing the athletes to cash in, as well.   

what is the ncaa nil rule?

The NCAA’s interim policy, which was passed in June 2021, has three main parts:

  1. Athletes can engage in NIL activities if they follow their state’s laws where their school is located. Schools must ensure these activities comply with state law.
  2. Athletes in states without NIL laws can still participate in NIL activities without breaking NCAA rules.
  3. Athletes are allowed to seek professional service providers for their NIL activities.

Student-athletes should report NIL activities consistent with state law or school and conference requirements to their school.

Examples of NIL activities for student-athletes

With the NCAA changing the existing NIL rules to begin allowing athletes the right to profit from the use of their own name, image and likeness, here are a few examples of what student-athletes could now be paid for:

What high school student-athletes need to know

NIL is an exciting opportunity for both college and high school athletes, but before you dive into name, image and likeness deals as a high school student, there are some important things to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to start preparing early and understand how NIL could impact your path to college.

  1. State NIL rules: Each state has its own NIL regulations, so what’s allowed in one state may not be the same in another.
  2. High school NIL rules: Though the NCAA permits high school student-athletes to monetize their NIL, check with your high school or sports association’s rules to avoid violations.
  3. Colleges and conference-specific NIL rules: In college, you’ll also need to be aware of what your college or conference allows for NIL, not just the state law.
  4. Know your risks: Engaging in NIL activities without considering the rules set by your state or high school sports association could jeopordize your eligibility to play college sports – and we know you don’t want that!
  5. Prioritize school and sports: Keep up with your grades and improve your skills for college-level competition – this boosts both your college prospects and future NIL opportunities.
  6. Seek guidance: Ask current college student-athletes for advice on name, image and likeness. They can connect you with NIL professionals and help you make smart choices! You can also explore the option of consulting with financial management experts, listening to industry leading podcasts and attending NIL workshops.
  7. Build your online presence: Even if you don’t plan to engage in NIL deals in high school, begin building your online presence on social media. Sharing your journey and interests can help college coaches know you better for recruiting and set the stage for future NIL opportunities.
  8. Stay informed: NIL rules and regulations are constantly changing as states, schools, and conferences assess their impact on athletes. Staying up-to-date on these developments and trends will help you make informed decisions during your high school and college journey.

To understand your NIL rights, regularly check the following sources:

NIL laws by state
State-by-state overview of the NIL laws impacting college student-athletes.

What states have signed NIL laws? 

States are introducing their own laws and policies related to NIL, and as a result, the regulations governing name, image and likeness deals can vary based on where you live or the college you attend. Different states have distinct rules regarding what athletes can endorse and when they can start engaging in these opportunities.

In states with active NIL laws, college athletes can earn money following both state and school rules. In states without such laws, the college sets the guidelines for NIL activities.

We’ve gathered data from the Business of College Sports NIL Tracker (last updated July 2023) to provide you with a state-by-state overview of the NIL laws impacting college student-athletes. We’ll ensure this information stays current as NIL regulations evolve.

StateNIL Law Status
AlabamaRepealed / Suspended
ArizonaSigned into law
ArkansasSigned into law; Amended April 2023 
CaliforniaSigned into law
ColoradoSigned into law
ConnecticutSigned into law
DelawareSigned into law
District of Columbia (D.C.)Legislation proposed October 2021
FloridaSigned into law
GeorgiaSigned into law
HawaiiBill introduced
IllinoisSigned into law; Amended May 2022
IowaLegislation proposed 
KansasLegislation proposed 
KentuckySigned into law
LouisianaSigned into law
MaineSigned into law
MarylandSigned into law
MassachusettsLegislation proposed
MichiganSigned into law
MinnesotaLegislation proposed
MississippiSigned into law; Amended April 2022
MissouriSigned into law; Amended May 2022 and July 2023
MontanaSigned into law
NebraskaSigned into law
NevadaSigned into law
New HampshireLegislation proposed
New JerseySigned into law
New MexicoSigned into law
New YorkSigned into law; Amended July 2023
North CarolinaSigned into law
North DakotaNone
OhioSigned into law
OklahomaSigned into law; Amended May 2023
OregonSigned into law
PennsylvaniaSigned into law
Rhode IslandLegislation proposed
South CarolinaSigned into law
South DakotaNone
TennesseeSigned into law; Amended April 2022
TexasSigned into law; Amended June 2023
VermontLegislation proposed
VirginiaSigned into law
WashingtonLegislation proposed
West VirginiaLegislation proposed
NIL policies for high school student-athletes
State-by-state overview of the NIL policies for high school student-athletes.

High school associations address the NIL rules 

High school sports associations are currently navigating the complexities of name, image and likeness. Unlike college student-athletes, high school athletes have stricter limitations and may not be able to capitalize on their school’s logo or name. The opportunities for high school athletes to make money from their NIL vary depending on the rules set by their specific association.

Below is access to state-by-state rules and regulations for each high school association.

StateNIL High SchoolHigh School Association
AlabamaProhibitedAlabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA)  
AlaskaPermittedAlaska School Activities Association (ASAA)  
ArizonaProhibitedArizona Interscholastic Association  
ArkansasUnder Consideration  Arkansas Activities Association (AAA)  
CaliforniaPermittedCalifornia Interscholastic Federation  
ColoradoPermittedColorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA)  
ConnecticutPermittedConnecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC)
DelawareUnder ConsiderationsDelaware Interscholastic Athletic Association
District of Columbia (D.C.)PermittedDistrict of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA)
FloridaProhibitedFlorida High School Athletic Association
GeorgiaUnder ConsiderationGeorgia High School Association (GHSA)
HawaiiProhibitedHawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA)
IdahoPermittedIdaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA)
IllinoisPermittedIllinois High School Association (IHSA)
IndianaUnder ConsiderationsIndiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA)
IowaPermittedIowa High School Athletic Association & Iowa Girls High School Athletic
KansasPermittedKansas State High School Activities Association
KentuckyProhibitedKentucky High School Athletic Association
Louisiana  PermittedLouisiana High School Athletic Association
Maine  PermittedMaine Principals’ Association
Maryland  PermittedMaryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association
Massachusetts  PermittedMassachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association
Michigan  Under considerationMichigan High School Athletic Association
MinnesotaPermittedMinnesota State High School League
MississippiProhibited  Mississippi High School Activities Association
MissouriProhibitedMissouri State High School Activities Association
MontanaUnder ConsiderationMontana High School Association
NebraskaPermittedNebraska School Activities Association
NevadaPermittedNevada Interscholastic Activities Association
New HampshirePermittedNew Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association
New JerseyPermittedNew Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association
New MexicoProhibitedNew Mexico Activities Association
New YorkPermittedNew York State Public High School Athletic Association
North CarolinaPermitted  North Carolina High School Athletic Association
North DakotaPermitted  North Dakota High School Activities Association
OhioProhibitedOhio High School Athletic Association
OklahomaPermitted  Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association
OregonPermitted  Oregon School Activities Association
PennsylvaniaPermittedPennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association
Rhode IslandPermittedRhode Island Interscholastic League
South CarolinaProhibitedSouth Carolina High School League
South DakotaUnder ConsiderationSouth Dakota High School Activities Association
TennesseePermittedTennessee Secondary School Athletic Association
TexasUnder ConsiderationTexas University Interscholastic League
UtahPermittedUtah High School Activities Association
VermontProhibitedVermont Principals Association
VirginiaPermittedVirginia High School League
WashingtonPermittedWashington Interscholastic Activities Association
West VirginiaProhibitedWest Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission
WisconsinProhibitedWisconsin Interscholastic
WyomingUnder ConsiderationWyoming High School Activities Association

Insider Tip: We highly recommend that you reach out to your high school athletic director or contact your high school association before engaging with NIL deals as a high school student. They will be able to provide you with the necessary guidance and most up-to-date information specific to your state’s association.

Are colleges/universities creating their own NIL rules? 

Yes, each individual school has oversight of NIL deals and the right to object to a deal if it conflicts with existing agreements. Some schools are turning to companies like Opendorse and INFLCR, which offer platforms for athletes to upload their NIL contracts for the compliance department to review and approve.

Athletes are expected to understand their school’s NIL policy and keep their school informed of all NIL arrangements. The best way to ensure student-athletes understand school-specific NIL rules is to work directly with their school’s compliance department or their coaches. Check here for a list of institutions with NIL rules and regulations in place.

National governing bodies sport-specific amateurism rules 

Similar to states, colleges/universities and conferences, national governing bodies are beginning to create their own NIL guidelines for student-athletes to retain their amateur status. The first national governing body to address the new NIL policy is USGA. The association released their own set of guidelines that highlighted three requirements for student-athletes to remain amateur golfers.  

Below is access to the rules and regulations of sport-specific national governing bodies. 

AAU Sports
USA Baseball 
US Amateur Basketball 
USA Cheer 
USA Field Hockey 
USA Football 
USA Gymnastics 
USA Ice Hockey 
USA Lacrosse 
US Rowing 
USA Soccer 
USA Softball 
USA Swimming 
USA Volleyball 
USA Water Polo 
USA Wrestling 

How to talk to college coaches about NIL 

Moving forward, student-athletes interested in monetizing their NIL will need to ask questions about NIL rules when talking with coaches. Before speaking with a coach, prospective student-athletes should create a list of questions about the NIL rules that would impact them. Below are a few suggested questions:

Helping student-athletes monetize on their NIL 

Student-athletes looking to monetize on their NIL will need help securing deals. While there are many companies that have been working with professional athletes for years that will offer their services to college athletes, there are a number of new companies that have recently launched specifically to help collegiate athletes. To learn about some of these new brands, check out the NIL Network’s coverage on digital marketplaces, as well as the BCS tracker which offers a running list of marketplaces. 

What’s next for NIL?  

The NCAA intends to work with federal congressional legislators to replace the interim policy with a single nationwide policy, but there is no timeline on when that might happen. For now, athletes should continue to adhere to NIL rules set in their specific state. NCSA will continue to monitor changes as they relate to NIL laws and provide updates to the team, when necessary.

For student-athletes looking for additional resources covering NIL updates on an ongoing basis, check out the weekly NIL Network podcast, Fi-Nil-ly


What does NIL stand for?

NIL stands for name, image and likeness, which primarily pertains to student-athletes in college sports.

What does NIL mean?

NIL refers to the rights of college athletes to control and profit from their name, image and likeness. In the past, these rights were restricted by the NCAA, but recent policy changes now allow athletes to monetize their personal brand and endorsements while participating in college sports.

When did NIL start?

Effective July 1, 2021, the NCAA approved name, image, and likeness policy allows student-athletes to monetize their NIL. However, no federal legislation or specific NCAA NIL rules have been established. NIL activities and restrictions vary from state to state and school to school, which means student-athletes must understand both sets of rules before entering into any NIL agreements.  

What is a NIL deal?

A NIL deal is an agreement or arrangement between a student-athlete and a third party, such as a brand, company or individual, where the student-athlete receives compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.

What is an NIL collective?

NIL collectives are support networks for college athletes where donors pool together money to compensate athletes for their name, image and likeness. These independent organizations generate NIL deals for athletes at specific schools while operating separately from the schools themselves.