Photo via NYLS_NIL Twitter
The NIL marketplace is one that is new and uncertain. On October 26, the NCAA clarified its interim NIL policy. In the NCAA’s most recent guidelines, it makes clear that schools cannot engage in negotiations on behalf of an NIL entity or a student-athlete to secure specific NIL opportunities. However, the language leaves the opportunity for colleges to provide such services, so long as they do not have any NCAA affiliation. New York Law School (NYLS) is one school that has taken advantage of this by providing services through their “NIL Pro Bono Project.”
NYLS exists as a standalone program that does not have any sports or an undergraduate affiliation to such sports. Dan Lust, sports law attorney at Moritt Hock & Hamroff, LLP helped establish the NIL Pro Bono Project at NYLS. Lust explained that “the NCAA has no jurisdiction when it comes to NYLS,” because of the fact there is no affiliation to sports. Therefore, NYLS is able to help student-athletes throughout New York State who are faced with navigating the uncertain NIL marketplace.
It is a unique carve out that allows for NYLS to provide these services. However, if schools are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of their student-athletes, the current NCAA guidelines seem counterintuitive. Free services that are there to help student-athletes negotiate deals and make the most of their NIL is undoubtedly beneficial for those athletes, but under the current guidelines few schools can provide these services. This could be a safeguard by the NCAA to ensure that student-athletes are not fully relying on the services of their school and putting their own thought into the deals they are engaging in, but it is clear that these services are beneficial.
NIL compliance is something that will be a slippery slope for universities and student-athletes moving forward because of the lack of guidance and how new this marketplace is. Luckily for New York student-athletes, Dan Lust and the rest of his colleagues at NYLS recognized this carve out and started the NIL Pro Bono Project. There is no doubt that student-athletes are in need of their services when dealing with a very uncertain NIL landscape, and that this will be very beneficial.