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Business Strategy

    Representing Athletes: The Legal Implications for NIL Agents By Joshua Frieser, Frieser LegalOver the past year and a half, high school and college athletes have signed thousands of name, image, and likeness (NIL) endorsement deals. NIL deals have been signed with local companies like car dealerships and national brands like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. As the NIL industry has progressed, more and more college athletes have hired NIL agents to source and negotiate NIL deals for them.Sports agents that typically negotiate professional playing contracts and marketing agencies that represent influencers, celebrities, and media personalities alike have sought to represent college athletes. Moreover, there has been an influx of new “NIL agents” looking to work in the industry. Although most NIL agents are hardly what is portrayed in Jerry Maguire—most do not represent professional athletes in negotiating playing contracts—they are considered sports agents by law and thus have legal responsibilities to consider. Additionally, as professional service providers, there are dozens of contract implications that NIL agents should be conscious of. Here are some of the primary legal concerns that NIL agents should consider prior to working with high school and college athletes: Registration as an Athlete Agent and State Athlete Agent Laws A major oversight for many NIL agents has been the failure to register with state agencies as an athlete agent. Although some state athlete agent laws have differing language and not all directly follow the Uniform Athlete Agent Act (UAAA), most state laws consider individuals who negotiate endorsement contracts on behalf of athletes to be sports agents. If the state you are operating in considers you to be an athlete agent and requires athlete agents to register with the state, you must do so.NIL agents that fail to register with the states they are operating in can be subject to fines and personal liability. It is also important for NIL agents to be aware of multi-state registration requirements. Registering with one state may not be adequate if you are servicing clients in multiple states. It is likely that most NIL agents will have to register as an athlete agent in many states. Although NIL agents do not need to register with or be certified by a union, like the NFLPA, state registration is going to be required in almost all circumstances. NIL agents also should consider other requirements of state athlete agent laws and the federal Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA) beyond registration. Most of these laws place limitations on athlete agents, requirements for dealing with client funds, and disclosures that must be made to student-athletes and their universities. NIL agents must examine the requirements of each state law where they are working with student-athletes to be sure to comply with any of these provisions. State NIL Laws; NCAA, Institutional, and Conference NIL Policies When representing high school and college athletes in NIL deals, agents should ensure that each deal is in compliance with state NIL laws and any applicable NCAA, state HSAA, institutional, and conference rules or policies. While many state NIL laws have overlapping provisions, NIL agents should be aware of where their requirements may differ. For …

As NIL grows rapidly and enters 2024 as a billion dollar industry, more brands are jumping in and reaping the benefits of college athletes promoting their products or services. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that only the biggest and most popular athletes can deliver campaign results. Here, College Athlete Influencers explores why that’s not the case and how brands can maximize their ROI through college athlete influencers.

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