Kentucky's NIL Policy: What You Need To Know


The NIL era of college athletics is finally here. Hours before the floodgates opened for student-athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness, UK Athletics published its NIL policy, giving a slightly clearer picture on what’s allowed under the new rules and what’s not. You can read the policy in its entirety here, but here are the ten things you need to know.

1. Players must disclose potential deals to UK seven days ahead of time

UK’s policy requires student-athletes to disclose any proposed contract or agreement to the compliance office seven days prior to the activity for approval. Until it’s approved, the student-athlete cannot engage in the activity and failure to disclose the contract or agreement “may result in loss of eligibility, including suspension from team activities or competition, and/or additional NIL education or training.”

2. A “Promotional Activity” is defined as…

Players can now do “promotional activities.” UK defines a promotional activity as the use of a student-athlete’s name image or likeness to promote the commercial endeavors of any entity, including media. Examples include:

1. In-person appearances (e.g., camps, autograph sessions, etc.)
2. Social media posts
3. Media appearances (e.g., an appearance on a talk show)
4. Digital/printed materials (e.g., billboards, online ads, etc.)

3. Players have to get permission from JMI to wear UK-branded gear in NIL activities

JMI Sports holds UK Athletics’ multimedia rights (branding, licensing, etc.), so if a player wants to wear a UK jersey or gear in an NIL opportunity, they have to get permission from JMI first. Good luck with that.

4. These companies are off limits

UK student-athletes are not allowed to make deals with:

1) Lotteries, casinos, sports wagering facilities or online equivalents
2) Products and establishments that market products exclusively to those 18 years of age or older
3) Adult entertainment
4) Tobacco, marijuana, nicotine vapor products
5) Providers of higher education (other colleges and universities), health care, and related services

5. Agents are allowed

UK’s policy allows players to use agents or other outside third parties to negotiate NIL contracts, but the agent must be registered with the state of Kentucky and the UK Athletics Compliance Office.

6. What about boosters?

UK’s policy says boosters (defined as someone who has made a financial contribution to the school, assisted in the recruitment of a player, or provided benefits of any kind to a current player) CAN pay players for use of their NIL, BUT only if:

1) It is not used as a recruiting inducement or extra benefit;
2) It is not based on an athletic performance or achievement; and
3) It is not at the direction or arranged by a coach or institutional staff member.

7. Coaches can’t be involved

Can John Calipari or Mark Stoops help a player get a deal? No. UK’s policy says university employees, including coaches and staff, are not permitted to help student-athletes with NIL deals, including passing along contact information. Staff can’t make graphics for student-athletes either.

8. Players cannot miss practice, games, or class for NIL activities

UK’s policy says student-athletes are not allowed to miss any required team activities, class, or any other academic obligations (i.e., tutoring sessions) to participate in NIL opportunities.

9. Players can develop Non-fungible Tokens

I still don’t really understand non-fungible tokens, but UK’s policy says student-athletes can develop them as long as they don’t use UK intellectual property (or if they do, get a license first). Get in the blockchain game!

10. They’ve gotta pay taxes on whatever they make

UK’s policy includes a reminder that student-athletes must pay taxes on whatever NIL compensation they receive. Welcome to the real world, kids!

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