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NCAA tightens grip of NIL deals in college athletics after failed attempts at federal legislation

The NCAA is tightening its grip on Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals in college athletics. In the wake of failed attempts at federal legislation and criticism over pay-for-play deals, the NCAA has adopted a new evidentiary standard and presumption for NIL cases through an amendment to its infractions program bylaws.

In cases involving NIL activities and communications that are subject to NCAA regulation, the infractions process will now presume a violation has occurred based on circumstantial evidence. It will then be the responsibility of the NCAA member institution to prove that the alleged violation has not taken place.

Activities that will create this presumption of a violation include: a staff member or booster contacting a prospect about NIL opportunities, NIL agreements requiring a prospect to be in the locale of the institution before enrollment, collecting representatives promoting prospects prior to their commitment to the institution, and staff members or boosters soliciting or facilitating additional NIL opportunities.

According to the National Law Review, the new regulations mean that the NCAA can rely on less direct and substantiated information to allege violations. The review suggests that institutions, agents, boosters, and anyone else involved in NIL deals should increase their documentation efforts.

The announcement of the NCAA’s tightening regulations comes after Syracuse University’s men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim faced scrutiny for alleging multiple ACC schools bring in or retain high-profile players with large NIL deals. Although Boeheim issued an apology and walked back his statement, it is unknown whether the new regulations will affect booster relationships with institutions or NIL deals with student-athletes.

NIL deals were legalized for collegiate student-athletes in New York state in November 2022. The NCAA’s new regulations signal an effort to regulate NIL deals and ensure the integrity of college athletics.

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