Overnight, the game changed for student-athletes, colleges and universities, and brands. Student-athletes at NCAA member institutions are now able to monetize their name, image and likeness (NIL) rights and maintain eligibility to compete in intercollegiate athletics. The market is evolving under a fragmented and localized regulatory system, which presents all stakeholders with great opportunities and new challenges.
Where Opportunity Calls, Uncertainty Thrives
NCAA student-athletes may now leverage their athletic success and social media presence to earn money during their college years instead of being kept on the sidelines by eligibility rules. However, these young athlete-entrepreneurs endeavoring to maximize their earnings must now navigate the rules and protect themselves in a new and rapidly evolving marketplace.
Student-athlete NIL deals offer colleges and universities the opportunity to support their student-athletes with their personal brand development and build more effective sponsorship and recruitment platforms. With that opportunity, schools also have the responsibility to shoulder the compliance burden of setting and enforcing eligibility rules that conform with state NIL laws (as applicable), NCAA policies, and division and conference rules that are in flux and may not address actual NIL deal activity.
Brands now have access to more than 480,000 possible brand ambassadors spread across 1,100 colleges and universities and across genders, sports, regions and lifestyles. But deals must be structured and executed in form and substance to meet the evolving eligibility rules and state laws.
What We Do
Colleges and Universities
We provide guidance to colleges and universities to develop policies and programs that best serve the needs of the school and its student-athletes. Our services are designed to help institutions evaluate existing regulatory compliance measures and overall protection of the school and student-athletes while also aiming to educate both student-athletes and administrators on ways to navigate and maximize emerging NIL opportunities.
- Scorecard Assessment. We assess a school’s NIL program by evaluating current NIL policy documentation, protocols and enforcement measures to align with regulatory mandates and industry best practices.
- NIL Deal Evaluation. We review active and historic NIL contracts signed by student-athletes in order to bring attention to potential legal and reputational exposure for student-athletes or the school and make recommendations to minimize risk for current and future deals.
- NIL Workshops. We offer curated workshops for college and university administrators and student-athletes to educate them on key NIL issues.
- NIL Clinics. We develop innovative programs to allow colleges and universities to leverage their existing resources to provide educational and compliance support for student-athletes.
- Licensing, External Communications and Relations. We assess and advise on college and university licensing programs (e.g., group licensing, sponsorships), recruitment-related communications, and relations with alumni, collectives and boosters, as well as brands, for regulatory compliance and to maximize benefits.
College and high school NIL strategies need to ensure student-athlete eligibility and compliance with state law and school policies, requiring in-depth knowledge of the rules and practical advice in structuring deals in the new, evolving and localized regulatory structure. We provide brands with strategic and legal advice and tools to develop and execute sponsorship and endorsement strategies involving student-athletes across the country. Our services also help brands identify jurisdictions, schools and student-athletes as well as deal structures and contracts that provide the best and most efficient means of executing NIL endorsement campaigns.
- Potential partnership identification
- Market positioning
- NIL strategy
- Brand strategy in NIL context
- Conceptualization of offering
- Repositioning, as necessary
- Deal structuring
- Contract drafting and negotiation
- Intellectual property counseling
- Brand protection
- Regulatory and NIL compliance
- Compliance framework
We are nationally recognized for structuring innovative sponsorship and endorsement deals for talent. Our experience includes negotiating and advising on digital influencer deals, XR events and experiences, and brand ambassador deals as well as helping talent develop their own personal brands and businesses. We can help student-athletes structure NIL deals that balance the demands of being student-athletes with monetizing their celebrity and social influence, now as well as with an eye toward achieving long-term goals beyond their college careers.
How We Work With You
We aim to be a trusted partner for colleges and universities, brands, and student-athletes as they navigate the evolving NIL landscape and regulatory environment. We offer recurring legal and consulting services to help our clients remain up to date on new NIL rules, sponsor opportunities and current trends, including:
- Annual review of university NIL policies and programs (through the Scorecard Assessment) for continued alignment with updated legislation, NCAA policy and best practices
- Recurring review and due diligence of NIL deal activity for colleges and universities to evaluate against changing university policies and state rules
- Trusted advice for student-athletes on active NIL brand deals
- Annual or periodic training and education for student-athletes and staff on existing and new NIL rules and advertising compliance issues
- Design and development of programs and structures that enable colleges and universities to leverage resources to provide NIL-related compliance and education services
- Assessment and advice on college and university licensing programs, recruitment-related communications, and relations with alumni, collectives and boosters, as well as brands, for regulatory compliance and to maximize benefits