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Navigating NIL Deals: What’s Off Limits?

As most people know, NCAA athletes can (finally) profit off of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). We’ve seen all kinds of NIL deals – from partnerships with underwear brands to taco bell. But, like with anything else that is new, NIL gives rise to a lot of questions and uncertainties. Which is why college athletes need to be careful about the deals they make.

Can college athletes promote and partner with tobacco, CBD, or alcohol companies? What are the specific rules? We had the same questions – so we decided to find answers.

The answer is – it depends on your school and state. It also depends on the image you’d like to put out. Lastly, it depends on your age. Basically, it’s very murky water.

To give you some context, the NCAA is not technically allowed to dictate or restrict certain partnerships or companies from participating because of the NCAA vs. Alston Supreme Court ruling. However, the NCAA has a list of banned substances. So, while it is not against the rules to endorse any specific product, it would not be in your best interest to work with companies selling products banned within the NCAA (even CBD is on this list). 

In regards to partnerships with alcohol/liquor companies, there is no general rule against this either. Once again, it depends on your school and state. Back in September, FAU quarterback N’Kosi Perry partnered with a beer company in Florida as part of an NIL deal. This was the first of its kind, but definitely not the last. 

Some states, like Mississippi, have implemented NIL laws that prevent athletes from endorsing these “taboo” products. In addition, specific “school codes,” like BYU’s, prevent students from endorsing anything that goes against the codes. 

Overall, there’s no one law or consensus regarding NIL deals. Our advice: get educated on your states’ laws, learn about your school’s/athletic program’s specific rules regarding NIL, make sure you’re of age, and most importantly, consider the image you are creating for yourself with endorsements and partnerships.
Here are some resources for determining what’s legal in your state in regards to NIL.


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