By: Paul Fenaroli

Since the NCAA’s policy change in 2021 allowing college athletes to profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), both states and schools have scrambled to adopt regulations to govern these deals. While specific rules can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction and institution, several key regulations have emerged as common themes across the country. These regulations are designed to protect student-athletes, ensure fair play, and maintain the integrity of college sports.

Key Regulations Concerning NIL Deals

  1. Disclosure Requirements. Many states and schools require student-athletes to disclose NIL deals to their institution. This ensures transparency and allows schools to monitor compliance with NCAA rules and state laws.
  2. Prohibition of Pay-for-Play. Regulations commonly prohibit NIL agreements that directly pay athletes for their performance on the field or court. The intent is to distinguish NIL compensation from pay-for-play arrangements, maintaining the amateur status of college athletes.
  3. No School Involvement in Securing Deals. There is a general prohibition on schools being involved in negotiating NIL deals on behalf of their athletes. This aims to prevent conflicts of interest and ensures that NIL deals are made independently of the athlete’s participation in collegiate sports.
  4. Compliance with School and Conference Policies. Student-athletes must comply with policies set forth by their schools and athletic conferences. These policies often include restrictions on partnering with certain types of businesses (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, gambling) and guidelines on how athletes can use school logos and trademarks.
  5. Education on NIL and Financial Literacy. Recognizing the complexity of NIL deals and their potential tax implications, some states and schools mandate or encourage education programs on NIL, financial literacy, and contract law for student-athletes.
  6. Agent Registration and Certification. To protect athletes from exploitation, regulations often require agents and advisors involved in NIL deals to be registered and certified. This helps ensure that those representing student-athletes are qualified and adhere to professional standards.
  7. Conflict of Interest and Endorsement Limitations. Rules may restrict deals that present a conflict of interest with existing school sponsorships or that are deemed detrimental to the school’s image and values. Athletes are typically barred from endorsing products or services that conflict with NCAA rules or school policies.

Impact and Considerations

The patchwork of state laws and individual school policies creates a complex regulatory environment for NIL deals. While these regulations aim to provide a framework for the ethical and fair conduct of NIL activities, they also present challenges. Compliance can be burdensome for student-athletes and institutions alike, necessitating careful navigation of the legal landscape.

As the NIL space continues to evolve, further adjustments to regulations are expected. Stakeholders, including lawmakers, educational institutions, and advocacy groups, are closely monitoring the impact of NIL deals on college sports to ensure that the regulations serve the best interests of student-athletes, schools, and the broader sports community.

(Paul Fenaroli  (former NFL Athlete) is an Associate Attorney at Pastore, a law firm that helps corporate and financial services clients find creative solutions to complex legal challenges. He can be reached at 203.658.8470 or

Tags: NIL Deals, Paul Fenaroli