2022 NIL Updates: States, Players Seek to Expand NIL Rights

4/4/2022

Reece Brassler, Esq.

As the seasons change, so does the Name, Image, and Likeness (“NIL”) landscape.  Indeed, since my last article in November 2021, there seems to be a shift in focus toward expanding the already unchecked NIL rights of student-athletes, whether by way of amending state laws, repealing state laws, or suing state organizations. 

Specifically, Florida lawmakers are attempting to amend Florida’s NIL bill which prohibits universities from causing compensation "to be directed to" athletes, thereby hamstringing their universities’ abilities to compete with schools in other states that are less restricted. Alabama has gone a step further by repealing its NIL law entirely to ensure that its universities can fully take advantage of the extremely broad NIL permissions granted by the NCAA. 

The moves by Florida and Alabama have caused states considering new legislation, like Kentucky, to expressly permits universities to establish programs to provide “NIL agreement resources” and to support student athletes, even by way of “referring third parties soliciting potential NIL agreements to student athletes or their agents.” (See KY Senate Bill 6.) Likewise, they are giving states with currently enacted legislation reason to reconsider their policies. For instances, Tennessee’s NIL law states NIL compensation “may only be provided by a third party” and prohibits “[a]n institution, or an officer, director, or employee of the institution” from being “involved in the development, operation, and promotion of a prospective intercollegiate athlete’s [NIL], including actions that compensate or cause compensation to be provided to athletes.” It is possible a waterfall of changes in NIL state laws are on the horizon.

Further, with the continued expansion of NIL rights, it appears to be only a matter of time before high school athletes are granted the same privileges as their college counterparts and intercollegiate athletes are able to get paid for their name, image, and likeness after graduating college. That is exactly what Sal Stewart and Gilbert Frierson seek to accomplish in their class action lawsuit against the Florida High School Athletic Association, Inc. (“FSHAA”), the National Federation of State High School Associations (“NFHSA”) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”).

As laws continue to change and rights continue to expand, make sure that you are staying aware of you or your athlete’s NIL rights and the restrictions on the same.

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