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  • Writer's pictureMatt Farrell

Roles and Responsibilities of Corporate Sponsors with NIL

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Corporate sponsors are accustomed to using celebrities, athletes and influencers to promote their brands. In that respect, the new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) opportunities within intercollegiate athletics are no different.

However, NIL comes with new rules of engagement. Even savvy corporate sponsors that are used to the rules of professional leagues or the Olympic governing bodies, will enter new terrain with NIL in intercollegiate athletics.

It is every bit the responsibility of the brands to know the rules from the CEO to the social media coordinator. Below are key items for corporate brands to consider:

Responsibility – there will be a co-dependent relationship with the brand and the student-athlete to follow the evolving NIL rules. “I didn’t know the rules,” will not be acceptable. Brands can’t put themselves, or the student-athlete, in that position.

• Research – there is currently dueling federal and state legislation that is not aligned with each other or the rules and expectations of the NCAA. There is the distinct possibility of varying NIL rules by state in the short-term unless federal legislation is passed. Brands must aware of the differences.

• Recruiting – just because an athlete has 100,000 followers doesn’t mean he or she is right for your business. Brands must take the time to understand the recruiting process. Not the recruiting we think of when a prospective student-athlete selects a school but recruiting and vetting the right brand ambassadors.

• Reporting – there will be a soon-to-be-announced process for reporting any commercial relationship, so all deals are tracked to ensure consistency. Companies, and student-athletes, will need to follow this process.

• Representation – the rules are still being formulated on how athletes can work with agents.

Rate – sponsors will need to understand fair market value in student-athlete partnerships. Problems arise when payments are inflated due to passion for the institution.

ROI – student-athletes bring a new and exciting way to achieve return on investment for corporate sponsors. It’s a great opportunity for the brand and the athletes.

NIL is an incredible new opportunity for both the student-athletes and the corporate partners, so must be used wisely. Any decision by brands will impact, and must respect, the eligibility of the student-athlete.

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