What is Name, Image, and Likeness?

Name, image, and likeness is the term used by the NCAA to refer to a student-athlete and their identifiable factors that make the individual unique. Here’s what you need to know about the term, how it came about, and how student-athletes can now use their name, image, and likeness to earn money.

Athlete with name image likeness.

What is Name, Image, and Likeness?

Also known as NIL and used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), name, image, and likeness refers to the unique characteristics of a student-athlete. This covers not only the three main components of the phrase, but also nickname, signature, individual symbol, design, social media account, or other things that would fall under the NIL umbrella.

What Is the History of NIL in the NCAA?

In the past, student-athletes could not profit from their NIL. Due to NCAA rules, athletes were unable to sell autographs, memorabilia, or other items that were their NIL. The colleges and universities they were attending, on the other hand, could. Schools could use the individual’s NIL in marketing, merchandise, school promotion, and other materials. The athlete in question would not see any money from these endeavors and the school would keep all of the profits.

Students who were caught selling items or autographs would often be met with discipline, including fines and suspension.

The NCAA v Alston Case

This NCAA rule started to change with the NCAA v Alston case ruling in 2020. The case actually referred to education-related payments for student-athletes and whether or not the NCAA could limit them. The United States Supreme Court sided with the NCAA.

At the same time, many states were starting to pass laws that ensured student-athletes could have more control over their NIL and be able to earn money.

However, the ruling didn’t quite give athletes the ability to benefit from their NIL entirely. It only referred to education-related payments.

A New NIL Policy

In 2021, the NCAA actually voted on and approved a change in rules regarding NIL. Previous NIL rules were suspended, and student athletes can now take full advantage of their NIL. Students can sell training camps, autographs, social media posts, sponsorship, and more.

State laws still matter and students still need to be sure they’re following them. Some states do have reporting requirements for student athletes, for example.

What Should You Do If You Want to Sell Your NIL?

If you’re an athlete and college and you want to sell your NIL, it’s important to always use caution first. The rule of, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies here. There are plenty of predatory practices in this industry. But here are some other tips to selling your NIL:

Understand Rules, Requirements, and Regulations

Students can work with professional service providers to make the navigation of the market, rules, and regulations much easier, especially if they aren’t sure where to start. This can also help ward off predatory practices or even help you improve your income – though you will have to pay them a fee.

It is possible to do by yourself though, too, but there is a lot to keep track of. Some examples of things student athletes have to do include:

  • Keep on top of any changing NCAA and NIL rules
  • Be aware of college regulations
  • Check in with their compliance officer
  • Report any NIL activities if required by the school or state
  • Be aware of tax requirements
  • Understand NIL contracts
  • Report NIL earnings and compensation

Build a Brand

One of the most important things you need to do if you want to sell your NIL as a student athlete is to build a brand. Whether or not you’re a top athlete in your field, your branding is essential to your success here. How do you want your audience and the market to see you? Your work here could even affect deals and job opportunities after you graduate college.

For those that aren’t top athletes, creativity is a must to get noticed. There are plenty of local deals that you could take advantage of, but there are also opportunities online. Instagram, TikTok, and other social media sites are a great place to start. You can garner followers thanks to your athletic talent and become an influencer.

This brand you’re building will also follow you throughout your life, so it’s important to cultivate it. It only takes seconds to bring down, too. You want to be someone businesses and other individuals want to associate with, so always be careful about what you say and do, even if you think no one is watching!

Name, image, and likeness from the NCAA has definitely changed over the past few years, and if a student wants to profit from their NIL, they have to keep on top of the newest rules and requirements. Working with a professional could help you build your brand while also staying in line with any regulations.

Are you looking to play a sport in college? Our College Match tool can help you identify the best schools for your interests. You’ll be able to get further information about top sports, conferences, and athletic scholarships, too.

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