NCAA Allows Schools to Assist NIL Efforts, Expands Options for Transfer Student-Athletes

April 18, 2024

On April 17, 2024, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Council unanimously adopted a proposal that allows NCAA member schools to provide assistance in supporting name, image and likeness (NIL) activities for student-athletes who disclose NIL arrangements to their schools. The new proposal is set to take effect on Aug. 1, 2024, but is subject to ratification by the Division I Board of Directors at its meeting later in April.

The new rule permits member schools to provide enhanced NIL support for student-athletes, including facilitating deals between student-athletes and third parties and identifying NIL opportunities for student-athletes. To receive school support for NIL activities, student-athletes must disclose to their schools any NIL activity of at least $600 in value no later than 30 days after entering or signing the NIL agreement. Prospective student-athletes also are required to disclose the same information regarding pre-enrollment NIL deals within 30 days of enrollment to receive NIL assistance from the school after enrollment. Schools may develop and implement their own policies on disclosures.

While schools may take a more active role in helping students with NIL opportunities, the NCAA’s prohibitions against pay-for-play and against schools directly compensating student-athletes for use of their NIL remain in place. The NCAA is investigating several schools for potential NIL and recruiting violations and will likely continue to do so.

Also on April 17, 2024, the Division I Council unanimously adopted rules allowing transfer student-athletes who are academically eligible to be immediately eligible for play at the school they transfer to, even if it is not the student-athlete’s first transfer. The rules will become effective immediately if ratified at the Division I Council meeting later in April. Prior transfer rules allowed students immediate eligibility after their first transfer, but required students to sit out a year after their second transfer. The rule change came on the heels of an injunction allowing student-athletes who transferred multiple times to play despite then-existing NCAA rules to the contrary.

Separate from the actions taken by the NCAA, on April 18, 2024, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law the first legislation in the nation that will give the commonwealth’s colleges and student-athletes a private right of action against the NCAA, or any athletic conference, for interfering with a student-athlete’s NIL rights. The new law allows the recovery of attorney’s fees and injunctive relief, in addition to monetary damages. It will go into effect on July 1, 2024, and will give Virginia colleges virtually unencumbered freedom to provide student-athletes NIL compensation, which, as noted above, is prohibited by the NCAA rules. The law states that nothing in it is intended to impact the employment status of student-athletes or qualify the student-athletes as employees because they participate in NIL opportunities. It is anticipated that Virginia’s law will become a model for other states.

As the national landscape shifts to allow schools to take a more active role in NIL opportunities for students, schools should closely monitor NCAA rules and evolving state laws that are inconsistent and can conflict with each other. Schools should also carefully consider other laws, like Title IX, which may impact the framework a school uses for providing support to student-athletes.

Please contact the authors of this article with questions about navigating this complex and evolving space.