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Young athletes and NIL rights

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2023 | Image Likeness Licensing

High-school and college athletes are increasingly monetizing their abilities through partnerships with brands. Whether it’s a post on social media or a spread in a newspaper, this could bring name, image and likeness issues into question.

While the NCAA now has a boilerplate NIL policy, these rules might not apply to every student-athlete. This article will look at some of the details, along with a look at the Florida law for intercollegiate sports.

The order of NIL rules and laws

Generally speaking, the higher level of law or rule would have priority. For example, in a state that has NIL laws for college athletes, that law would take priority over a league rule. If the state does not have a law, then the athlete might turn to leagues, coaches or compliance departments to understand the regulations.

Failure to comply with league NIL rules could result in regulatory actions up to and including disqualification from competition for the athlete. In a state that protects NIL rights explicitly, however, such a rule might be illegal.

Florida law for NIL rights

Florida has a specific law to protect intercollegiate athletes’ rights to their names, images and likenesses. It states that compensation must be commensurate with fair market value and that the payment must not be for athletic performance or attendance at a school.

The law also states that schools cannot prevent or restrict students from making money from their own images. Schools also cannot withhold grant-in-aid money or modify athletic eligibility based on a student earning money through advertising, partnerships, sponsorships and so on that use student-athlete NILs.

This is a rapidly emerging area of the law. Student-athletes might find more questions than answers at the beginning of their investigations.