Endorsements Sports Law

Cheat Sheet For Sports Agents As Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) Goes Live July 1

College athletes in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and New Mexico will be allowed to earn money from third parties, subject to certain restrictions, as of July 1. Texas, Illinois, and Louisiana are expected to join those states offering a July 1 effective date in the near future, and the NCAA could still change its bylaws before then.

I have previously discussed distinctions in state name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws when it comes to conflicts that may exist for third-party service providers and athlete contracts that may conflict with contracts between schools and their partners. Today, I am diving into the various state laws that will affect those who wish to represent athletes who seek to procure new opportunities.

  1. Florida’s NIL law expressly forbids a college from preventing an athlete from obtaining professional representation by an athlete agent or attorney engaged for the purpose of securing compensation for the use of NIL. The agent must be licensed under part IX of chapter 468 of the Florida Statutes. An attorney who is specifically seeking to secure compensation for the use of an athlete’s NIL must be a member in good standing with the Florida Bar. Florida’s NIL law says that it does not matter what the rules of the NCAA may be; a school cannot restrict an athlete’s use of an agent for securing NIL compensation. Under Florida Statute 468.452, an “Athlete agent” is defined as “a person who, directly or indirectly, recruits or solicits a student athlete to enter into an agent contract, or who, for any type of financial gain, procures, offers, promises, or attempts to obtain employment or promotional fees or benefits for a student athlete with a professional sports team or as a professional athlete, or with any promoter who markets or attempts to market the student athlete‚Äôs athletic ability or athletic reputation. This term includes all employees and other persons acting on behalf of an athlete agent who participate in the activities included under this subsection. The term does not include a spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, or guardian of the student athlete or an individual acting solely on behalf of a professional sports team or professional sports organization.” Under Florida Statute 468.454, the agent contract must state the amount and method of calculating the consideration to be paid by the student athlete for services to be provided by the athlete agent. Furthermore, within 72 hours after entering into an agent contract or before the next scheduled athletic event in which the student athlete may participate, whichever comes first, the agent is to give notice of the contract to the school’s athletic director. Agents are not to commingle money intended to athletes with their own accounts; they need to maintain a separate trust or escrow account.
  2. Alabama’s NIL law restricts a school from unreasonably preventing an athlete from obtaining representation by an agent licensed pursuant to Section 8-26B-4, Code of Alabama 1975, or a licensed lawyer in good standing with the Alabama State Bar. Alabama’s law contemplates the creation of an Alabama Collegiate Athletics Commission whose purpose is, in part, to make rules or recommendations about a process to manage registered athlete agents in the context of NIL. Alabama’s law says that an athlete must provide his/her college with written notice at least seven days prior to entering into a representation agreement with any individual for purposes of exploring or securing compensation for use of the student athlete’s NIL.
  3. Georgia’s NIL law says that athletes are entitled to obtain professional representation, including but not limited to representation provided by athlete agents, who shall be certified as provided for under Chapter 4A of Title 43, or legal representation provided by attorneys, who shall be licensed to practice law in the state. Its law further makes reference to the federal Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act (SPARTA), established in 15 U.S.C. Section 7801, et seq., and says athlete agents must comply with that law. Georgia has the same notice requirement to the school as Florida.
  4. Mississippi’s NIL law says that college athletes may obtain and retain a registered agent (as provided in Section 73-42-1 et seq.) or a lawyer licensed in Mississippi for any matter or activity relating to NIL compensation. As with Alabama, a student-athlete shall provide the postsecondary educational institution with written notice at least seven (7) days prior to entering into a representation agreement with any individual for the purpose of exploring or securing compensation for use of the student-athlete’s NIL. Mississippi’s law also makes reference to SPARTA.
  5. Finally, New Mexico’s NIL law says that colleges shall not interfere with or prevent an athlete from obtaining representation unaffiliated with the schools or its partners in relation to contracts or legal matters. “An entity or individual that represents a post-secondary educational institution or has represented that post-secondary educational institution in the previous four years shall not represent a student athlete who is attending that post-secondary educational institution in any business agreement.” Registration as an athlete agent is also required in New Mexico.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.