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NCAA Name, Image, Likeness Rule

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NCAA approves Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy 

On June 30, 2021, the Division 1 Board of Directors approved an interim name, image and likeness (NIL) policy. This new policy allows all NCAA D1, D2 and D3 student-athletes to be compensated for their NIL as of July 1, 2021, regardless of whether their state has a NIL law in place or not.  

The NCAA NIL rules do not override state, college/university or conference specific NIL rules. This means student-athletes need to review the NIL rules in the state where their school is located and check with their athletic department for any school and conference-specific rules to understand what limitations they will have on their NIL.  

College student-athletes competing in states without an NIL law will have the freedom to receive compensation for their NIL however they see fit, as long as they do not violate pay-for-play or receive financial incentives to sign with or remain at a program.  

What high school student-athletes need to know

High school athletes should tread carefully when looking into ways they can monetize on their NIL while in high school. While the NCAA rules say a high school student-athlete can begin to monetize their NIL in high school, doing so could violate their high school or sports association rules and jeopardize their eligibility within their sport or high school.  

Many high school associations have released statements clarifying that the new NCAA NIL policy doesn’t change high school eligibility rules. In July 2021, Darren Heitner, founder of Heitner Legal and Chief Editor of Sports Agent Blog, had his firm review all states’ NIL laws and the bylaws established by the high school athletic associations. Heitner Legal concluded that, At the moment, California is the only state that clearly allows high school athletes to pursue NIL opportunities. According to the California Interscholastic Federation, California high school athletes can profit from their NIL, as long as they do not use their high school’s name or marks.  

High school student-athletes should check the following sources of information to understand their NIL rights: 

Does my state have NIL rules?
Does my conference have NIL rules?

What states have signed NIL laws? 

Individual states have begun proposing and passing their own laws allowing student-athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. As a result, the rules around NIL deals differ from state to state, with various restrictions on what athletes are allowed to promote. To understand each state’s NIL rule, here’s a comprehensive list of states with laws in place: 

AlabamaPassed: April 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

ArizonaPassed: March 2021. Effective: July 23, 2021 

Arkansas: Passed: April 2021. Effective: Jan. 1, 2022 

CaliforniaPassed: September 2019. Effective: Jan. 1, 2023 

ColoradoPassed: March 2020. Effective: Jan. 1, 2023 

Connecticut: Passed: June 2021. Effective: Sept. 1, 2021 

Florida: Passed: June 2020. Effective: July 1, 2021 

Georgia: Passed: May 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

Illinois: Passed: June 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

Louisiana: Passed: July 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021  

Maryland: Passed: May 2021. Effective: July 1, 2023 

Michigan: Passed: December 2020. Goes into effect: Dec. 31, 2022 

Mississippi: Passed: April 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

Montana: Passed: April 2021. Effective: June 1, 2023 

NebraskaPassed: July 2020. Effective: No later than July 1, 2023 (schools can implement new policy at any time).  

NevadaPassed: June 2021. Effective: Jan. 1, 2022 

New Jersey: Passed: September 2020. Effective: September 2025 

New MexicoPassed: April 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

Ohio: Passed: June 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

OklahomaPassed: May 2021. Effective: July 1, 2023 

Oregon: Passed: June 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

Pennsylvania: Passed: June 2021. Effective: June 30, 2021 

South CarolinaPassed: May 2021. Effective: July 1, 2022 

TennesseePassed: May 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

TexasPassed: June 2021. Effective: July 1, 2021 

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. To help manage this process, some schools are turning to companies like Opendorse and INFLCR, which offers a platform 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 coaching and the compliance department. Check here for a list of institutions with NIL rules and regulations in place. 

High school associations address the NIL rules 

While college student-athletes can engage in NIL activity without fear of jeopardizing their eligibility, high school athletes are not as free to explore NIL opportunities. On July 7, the National Federation of State High School Associations’ executive director, Dr. Karissa Neihoff made a statement regarding the new NIL policy: 

“While it is not our position to debate the merits of current college athletes earning money from their NIL, it should be understood that these changes do not affect current high school student-athletes. Current high school student-athletes CANNOT earn money as a result of their connection to their high school team.”  

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

District of Columbia 
New Hampshire 
New Jersey 
New Mexico 
New York 
North Carolina 
North Dakota 
Rhode Island 
South Carolina 
South Dakota 
West Virginia 

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 on 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?  

While the NCAA intends to work with federal congressional legislators to replace the interim policy with a single nationwide policy, there is no timeline on when that might happen. 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 name, image and likeness 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.   

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: 

Keep reading for more detailed examples of how student-athletes may profit from the upcoming NIL rules changes.


What does NIL mean?

NIL stands for name, image, likeness. For years, the NCAA has used the name, image and likeness of college athletes to promote NCAA athletic programs and drive revenue. The NCAA’s interim NIL policy allows student-athletes to receive compensation for the use of their NIL.

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.  

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