Staying Above Board With Donations And Requests Under NIL Rules

The rules for "name, image, and likeness" (NIL) activities may seem strict, but they are meant to ensure the entire program stays ethical and that no student athletes are unduly influenced or pressured to attend a certain school or do certain things. Donors to colleges may want a student athlete to attend a business function, family party, or other event, and following NIL rules makes everything go more smoothly and avoids questions of impropriety.

Do Not Involve Staff Members

Arrangements should involve you and the student athlete, with the athletics office (or whichever office on campus is handling NIL activities) kept in the loop and made aware of all agreements. Asking a staff member to help arrange an NIL activity is not allowed; it could be seen as placing pressure on the student athlete and asking for free work from the staff member.

Ensure the School Knows About All NIL Activities

Student athletes are supposed to alert their athletics office to anything they do related to NIL. Any deal they sign, any agreement they make, and any pay they receive, all have to be reported to ensure there are no conflicts of interest or violations of school policies. You can contact the office, too, to double-check that what you want to request is allowed. Never tell the student athlete that what you're asking is small and doesn't need to be reported.

Be Very Careful Regarding College Copyrights

Asking a college athlete to attend a party while wearing a shirt with the college logo on it may sound pretty innocent. And, if the agreement is arranged properly, and the student athlete is wearing an official college T-shirt that the student athlete owns, that's generally OK. But you have to be very careful about using the college logo and any other copyrighted information without permission. For example, you can't have the student athlete attend a launch party for a line of clothing with the college logo that you never cleared with the college itself. You can contact the college's intellectual-property department to ask about getting permission.

Never "Donate" Money to Influence School Choice 

Donors can't donate money to a student athlete to convince them to attend a certain school, and donors can't donate money to a school to try to recruit a certain student athlete. Donors agree with this, of course, but the restriction has to be emphasized because it can be easy to stray into questionable territory. If you have a student athlete attend an event for pay or in-kind compensation, avoid mentioning other schools, for example, even as a joke.

Talk to your college's athletics office to learn more about NIL donations for college sports