The implementation and evolution of the NIL in collegiate athletics

How name, image, and likeness has re-shaped college athletics after the National Collegiate Athletic Association approved the NIL policy

Graphic courtesy of Eric Burgon

After a full year of the implementation of the name, image, and likeness (NIL) policy in NCAA athletics, one could say it has completely changed the landscape of college athletics. After a conversation with Adam Sanft, Utah Valley University’s Deputy Athletic Director and Internal Affairs Officer, we explore the story of NIL and its purpose. 

The objective of NIL, according to Sanft, is “to allow student-athletes to treat student-athletes like other students on campus who are able to profit off of their NIL and still be a student.” The NIL policy was approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on June 30, 2021 and took effect July 1, 2021. 

Sanft stated NIL is important to student-athletes because, “As you know most student-athletes will not go pro. This is the time in their life when they can benefit from their notoriety. They are now allowed to capitalize on that limited time frame,” said Sanft. Now athletes are “allowed to sign deals, sponsor products, get paid for autographs, etc.” 

When the NIL policy was approved, Sanft expressed, there was, “very little clarification on what was allowed and what wasn’t. For instance, initially we saw some schools use NIL as a recruiting tool to induce prospective student-athletes or athletes in the transfer portal to enroll at their schools. The NCAA has since clarified that NIL deals cannot be offered to recruits in order to secure their commitment during the recruiting process. Now the focus is on taking care of current student-athletes already in attendance at their schools.” Along with taking care of current athletes NIL has crept its way into recruiting. When looking at potential schools, “recruits want to know about NIL and what schools are doing. Schools cannot offer NIL deals in the recruiting process, but they can talk about NIL opportunities that are available to their current student-athletes.”

Many UVU athletes have had NIL opportunities of their own. “We’ve seen deals from all types of businesses. Our student-athletes have deals in clothing, food, finance, social media, real estate, pest control, etc. Since the rule change we’ve had over 100 NIL deals in just over a year.  With the launch of the outside collective I expect an even bigger variety of deals that will become available,” Sanft stated. 

NIL deals are constructed just like any other business transaction would be. With that being said there are a few regulations that have been implemented by the NCAA. These regulations consist of the rules that student-athletes cannot be paid for their performance and that the contract can not specify that the student-athlete has to attend a specific institution. The last main regulation is that all of the student-athletes must disclose their deals to the UVU Athletics Compliance Office. 

To support UVU athletes via NIL or to learn more about UVU compliance visit or contact [email protected]

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