The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has announced a partnership with the National College Players Association (NCPA) to jointly explore the marketing and licensing of all college athletes and how they can be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness through the NFLPA’s licensing affiliated entity, REP Worldwide.

Seeking to maximize the value of California’s Fair Pay To Play Act, recently signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom, which has empowered California student-athletes to seek financial opportunities relating to the marketing of their name, image and likeness beginning in January 2023, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith stated, “We are proud to partner with the NCPA and offer the services of REP Worldwide to offer all athletes the same world class service that NFL players receive. For the first time, a legislature has indicated that these students have rights just like everyone else and we support this continuing movement towards fairness. Regarding the NFLPA’s new partnership with the NCPA, Smith added, the new relationship

“will explore opportunities for merchandise, gaming and other officially licensed products. We will also review how recent developments impact television broadcast revenues in pursuit of fairness.”

Ramogi Huma, former UCLA Bruins linebacker and current NCPA Executive Director, commented as well. “I am grateful that college athletes will finally have representation that cares only about fairness for the athletes.” He continued, “We are on the right side of history and invite the NCAA’s commercial partners to join us. It’s time to embrace a new beginning.”

Despite the announcement of the partnership, the potential relationship between these two entities and college athletes is still unclear.

While representatives of the NFLPA and NCPA continue to express their future role as one of “representation,” college athletes as a group are not viewed as employees and are neither unionized nor legally recognized as a collective group. Neither the National Labor Relations Act nor the Fair Labor Standards Act recognizes student-athletes within their definition of employee.

How and if, the NFLPA, Rep Worldwide and the NCPA can represent all college athletes and serve as their collective voice in exploring group marketing opportunities is a question that remains to be answered.

Jackson Lewis’ Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group will continue to monitor the various issues arising from the student-athlete marketing rights of their name, image and likeness. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.


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Photo of Gregg E. Clifton Gregg E. Clifton

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in…

Gregg E. Clifton is a Principal in the Phoenix, Arizona, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is Co-Leader of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group and serves as the editor of the firm’s sports law blog.

Mr. Clifton has extensive experience in the collegiate and professional sports world. He has advised numerous professional franchises on general labor and employment issues, including Title III ADA regulatory compliance and wage and hour issues. He serves as lead counsel for several Major League Baseball teams in their salary arbitration matters and has represented NCAA and NAIA collegiate clients regarding rules compliance, investigatory matters and in disciplinary hearings. In addition, he has handled Title IX investigations and compliance issues for NCAA and NAIA member institutions. Mr. Clifton has also worked extensively in the area of agent regulation and enforcement in professional and college sports and regularly provides counsel on issues relating to NCAA and NAIA amateurism issues and athlete eligibility questions. He has also served as an expert witness in matters involving sports agents’ work and responsibilities, as well as athlete compensation issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Team Sports for Gaylord Sports Management. He also served as President of the Athlete and Entertainment Division for famed sports attorney Bob Woolf’s firm, Woolf Associates, in Boston.

Mr. Clifton began his career as an Associate at Jackson Lewis where he focused his practice on traditional labor law. He continues to counsel clients in the areas of collective bargaining negotiations, representation cases, arbitrations and National Labor Relations Board matters.

Mr. Clifton frequently serves as an expert speaker to law schools, including Harvard University, Boston College, Hofstra University and Arizona State University, and bar associations regarding sports law issues, including agent regulation and salary arbitration. He is also often cited as an expert source in national news media for his commentary and opinion on legal issues in sports.