For the first time since the NCAA issued its Interim Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) Policy on July 1, 2021, the NCAA Board of Directors issued new guidance in an attempt to place some limits on the involvement of boosters in the rapidly growing NIL landscape.
The new guidance, issued on May 9, 2022, provides clarity on the limited role of boosters in the recruitment process of a prospective or enrolled student-athlete. The guidance defines a “booster” as an individual, independent agency, corporate entity, or other organization that promotes an institution’s intercollegiate athletics program, who assists with providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student-athletes, or their family members. The definition could also include “collectives,” which are set up to funnel NIL deals to prospective or enrolled student-athletes to encourage them to attend a certain university or leave their current university for another based upon an NIL deal.
Through this guidance, the NCAA is instructing universities that any entity or person who falls under the definition of a booster, including a collective, is not allowed to make NIL deals with prospective or enrolled student-athletes.
With the football and basketball off-season in full swing and the transfer portal rapidly growing, the NCAA believes this guidance helps to establish a common set of expectations for schools as they navigate the NIL world, while maintaining NCAA compliance.
In its directive, the NCAA also noted that the emphasis of the new guidance is on the boosters in the recruiting process and is not intended to question the eligibility of prospective and enrolled student-athletes involved in NIL deals. This seems to be the NCAA’s way of showing its continued support for student-athletes to be able to benefit from NIL deals, while limiting those who are involved in those deals.
Notably, the NCAA stated that while the guidance is effective immediately, the enforcement staff may review potential violations that occurred prior to May 9, 2022. The NCAA added, however, that it will only pursue those actions that are clearly contrary to the interim policy, including the most severe violations of recruiting rules or payment for athletics performance.
The Jackson Lewis Collegiate and Professional Sports practice group is well-versed in NCAA issues and continues to analyze ongoing developments in this area. Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions regarding NCAA and any other collegiate and professional sports developments.