NIL Legislation Tracker
Your Guide to Federal and State Laws on Name, Image and Likeness Rules for NCAA Athletes
Saul Ewing attorneys are following the rapidly changing landscape affecting how NCAA athletes can profit from the use of their name, image or likeness (NIL). In January 2021, the NCAA halted its vote to amend its rules to give student-athletes more control over the use of their NIL for commercial purposes — a practice that was previously largely prohibited by the NCAA. Despite this, both federal and state efforts remained underway. On June 30, 2021, just one day before several state NIL laws were slated to go into effect and following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alston, the NCAA’s Board of Directors voted to approve an interim NIL policy that permits all NCAA student-athletes to profit from their NIL. The policy confirms that student-athletes can use “professional services providers” for NIL activities, that student-athletes should report NIL activities consistent with state law or school and conference requirements, and that schools and conferences are free to adopt their own policies to build upon the framework provided in the interim policy. The interim policy will remain in effect until federal legislation or new NCAA rules are adopted.
Although student-athletes everywhere can now profit from their NIL, state laws remain an important piece to the puzzle – under the interim policy, student-athletes who attend school in a state with an active NIL law must comply with that law, in addition to any institution and conference policies (students who attend school in a state without active NIL legislation must only comply with any institution and conference policies).
This tracker includes a list of passed state laws, as well as pending legislation, which student-athletes and institutions should continue to monitor. We also highlight federal efforts to date. We regularly update the tracker to include the latest developments.
Federal NIL Bills
There have been several federal bills introduced by both Republicans and Democrats, and, in some instances, on a bipartisan basis. Beyond some initial media attention when first introduced, these bills have not gained much traction. However, certain bills that were originally introduced in 2019-2020 have been re-introduced in 2022, demonstrating that there is continued interest in getting a federal law on the books.
- Rep. Gonzalez (R-OH)
- Cleaver (D-MO)
- Originally introduced and referred to Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Education and Labor on September 24, 2020
- Re-introduced on April 24, 2021
- Rep. Walker (R-NC)
- Introduced and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means on March 14, 2019
- Senator Rubio (R-FL)
- Introduced and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on June 18, 2020
- Senator Wicker (R-Miss)
- Introduced and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on December 10, 2020
- Senator Murphy (D-Conn)
- Representative Trahan (D-Mass)
- Introduced and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on February 4, 2021.
- Senator Booker (D-NJ)
- Senator Blumenthal (D-CT)
- Senator Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Senator Schatz (D-HI)
- Introduced and referred to the Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on Energy and Commerce on December 18, 2020.
- Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas)
- Introduced and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on February 24, 2021.
States That Have Passed NIL Laws
To date, the 32 states listed below have passed NIL laws. These states have largely modeled their laws on California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which was the first state NIL law enacted. There are also pending bills in California and New Jersey aimed at amending the already-passed NIL laws in those states. See California SB 26, California AB 609, and New Jersey A2356. Notably, the effective date of these NIL laws varies.
Overview of State NIL Laws
These laws apply to student-athletes, institutions of higher education, and athletic associations. As to student-athletes, the enacted laws all generally provide that student-athletes:
- may obtain licensed, professional representation, such as agents;
- shall not enter into a contract for NIL compensation if a provision of the contract is in conflict with a provision of the athlete’s team contract; and
- shall disclose any contract for NIL compensation to a designated official of the institution.
Further, state NIL laws generally provide that institutions of higher education:
- cannot uphold a rule preventing a student from being compensated for their NIL;
- shall not compensate prospective student-athletes for use of their NIL;
- shall not revoke scholarships—which are not considered “compensation”—as a result of a student receiving NIL compensation;
- that claim an athlete’s contract for compensation conflicts with their team contract must identify the specific conflicting provisions; and
- shall not include in any team contract provisions that prevent an athlete from using NIL for a commercial purpose when the athlete is not engaged in official team activities.
Finally, as to the rights of athletic associations – like the NCAA – the state NIL laws generally provide that athletic associations:
- cannot prevent a student-athlete from earning NIL compensation; and
- cannot prevent an institution from participating in athletics as a result of a student-athlete receiving NIL compensation.
Student-athletes’ remedies vary under the state NIL laws. For example, under Colorado’s law, aggrieved student-athletes can bring an action for injunctive relief. And, under Nebraska’s law, an aggrieved student-athlete or higher education institution may bring a civil action against the institution or association (but not student-athlete). If successful, the aggrieved party is entitled to actual damages, preliminary and other equitable relief, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
States That Have Proposed NIL Bills
While a number of states have expressed an intention to pass NIL laws, the states in the list below actually have pending NIL legislation. This list reflects proposed NIL legislation introduced during states’ current legislative session. Many other states introduced NIL legislation during previous legislative sessions, but these died in committee.
Saul Ewing attorneys regularly advise colleges and universities on legal and compliance issues. If you have any questions regarding NIL legislation generally, or the NIL efforts in your specific state, please contact the attorneys listed under "Contacts" or the attorney at the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.