Education

UVM’s student-athletes can start making money off endorsements and sponsorships

Patrick Gym
The Patrick Gymnasium at the University of Vermont. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

University of Vermont student-athletes can now make money from endorsements, advertisements and other business opportunities without losing eligibility to participate in college sports, the school announced Thursday. 

UVM’s guidelines come as the NCAA approved on Wednesday interim rules that allow student-athletes to turn a profit off of the use of their name, image and likeness — known as their “NIL” — without being disqualified from collegiate athletics.

This means that athletes will now have the opportunity to earn money directly from their college sports career.

“I’m happy that UVM student-athletes will now enjoy the same opportunities as other students to benefit from entrepreneurial activities and other initiatives related to their personal identity and brand,” UVM Director of Athletics Jeff Schulman said in a statement.

All Americans have the right to sell their NIL — but before Thursday, NCAA athletes had forfeited those rights as part of the deal when they signed scholarship agreements with universities.

The practice had been heavily criticized for allowing universities to make large amounts of money off of their athletes while denying those students the same right.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

UVM’s new policy allows its athletes to receive compensation for advertisements, endorsements, sponsorships, social media activity, autographs and other personal memorabilia. It also gives them the authority to lend their likeness to “camps, clinics or private instruction.”

Prior to entering into any NIL agreement, student-athletes are required to disclose their activities to the UVM Athletic Department.

In a press conference Thursday, Schulman said he is not aware of any “imminent” agreements between UVM’s student-athletes and outside businesses or organizations.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing from them very soon. I do know that some of our athletes will be having conversations with certain equipment providers that may be interested in sponsoring them,” Schulman said.

UVM has a sponsorship deal with Nike that would make it difficult for student-athletes to represent different brands, he said.

“We’re a Nike school,” Schulman said. “We don’t want our athletes out there publicly promoting products that directly conflict with our existing sponsors.”

While many states have NIL laws on the books for student-athletes, the NCAA is working with Congress to provide clarity on a national level.

Vermont is one of the states that does not have any statutes regarding student-athlete compensation.

Schulman said UVM has had conversations with members of the Vermont Legislature in the past around possible legislation. In 2020, bills were introduced in the House of Representatives, H.797, and the Senate, S.328, aimed at giving Vermont student-athletes the right to earn compensation from the use of their NIL.

Neither piece of legislation was taken up.

Schulman said the NCAA’s guidelines will undoubtedly evolve as it negotiates with Congress and that at the state level, UVM is “always open to talking to folks in the Legislature.”

“I think that the guidelines that we’ve put in place address many of the core issues that the state laws [elsewhere in the U.S.] are trying to address, but we would certainly be open to conversations with folks in Montpelier,” he said.

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Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

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