Frequently Asked Questions

NIL... What does it mean, and why is it important?

NIL refers to an individual’s right of publicity. When the NIL rules changes go into effect on July 1, student-athletes will be able to use their name, image and likeness to be compensated for commercial activities, including endorsements through traditional and social media, appearances, entrepreneurial activities, in-kind deals, and more. Those are rights that other college students, including those at Virginia Commonwealth University, have always enjoyed. Previously, intercollegiate student-athletes have been restricted in those opportunities as a condition of their eligibility to compete in intercollegiate athletics. The new interim guidance from the NCAA removes those restrictions to treat student-athletes similar to the general student body.

What are the foundational prohibitions of the approved NCAA name, image, and likeness policy?

Current and/or prospective student-athletes cannot receive compensation (monetary or in-kind) through an NIL agreement in exchange for their commitment to attend a school, to remain at a school, or for their athletic performance.

FAQ for Donors/Fans

How do I contact a student-athlete to discuss a potential agreement for NIL activities?

There are a variety of ways for you to connect with student-athletes directly to discuss NIL opportunities, including through the student-athletes’ social media accounts, among others. 

Once an agreement is in place, who do I contact if I have questions about the terms of that agreement?

Any NIL agreement is a partnership between yourself and the student-athlete, and thus you should contact the student-athlete or their personal representative with questions or concerns.

Is there a limit to the amount of compensation that can be provided to a student-athlete for use of their NIL?

No, so long as your agreement doesn’t violate one of the foundational principles (current and/or prospective student-athletes cannot receive compensation through an NIL agreement in exchange for their commitment to attend a school, to remain at a school, or for their athletic performance).

Can I just give money to a student-athlete because of their status as a student-athlete?

No. NCAA extra benefit and recruiting inducement rules still apply. Payment for NIL activities must include an action on the SA’s part (e.g., promotion, appearance, autograph, etc.). Otherwise, the payment could be an extra benefit or preferential treatment violation and jeopardize the SA’s eligibility for athletics participation.

May a student-athlete receive NIL compensation based on the student-athlete's athletic performance at Virginia Commonwealth University?

No

May a NIL contact stipulate that an student-athlete must compete for, or attend, Virginia Commonwealth University (or any other NCAA member school)?

No

May I compensate a student-athlete for the student-athlete's NIL when the student-athlete is engaged in official team activities?

No. For example, if a student-athlete is at a VCU fan event or at an away-from-home competition, you may not compensate the student-athlete for the student-athlete’s autograph or photo because the student-athlete is engaged in official team activities. In short, if the student-athlete is participating in some activity because VCU Athletics organized it, then it’s an official team activity.

Are there any industries or products that student-athletes may not endorse?

Yes. Student-athletes are prohibited from engaging in NIL activities involving a commercial product or service that conflicts with existing NCAA legislation (e.g., sports wagering, banned substances). Student-athletes must not use their NIL to promote casinos or gambling, including sports betting; alcohol products; tobacco and electronic smoking products and devices; cannabis, cannabinoids, cannabidiol, or other derivatives; drug paraphernalia; adult entertainment; weapons, including firearms and ammunition; substances banned by the NCAA; or products or services that are illegal.

FAQ for Student-Athletes

May I enter into an agreement with a VCU donor for the use of my NIL in exchange for money, goods, or services?

Yes, subject to restrictions of VCU NIL Policy, as well as potential federal laws and NCAA rules; however, before you enter into such a contract, you must disclose to VCU Athletics through the ARMS NIL Disclosure Form any proposed contract for use of your name, image, or likeness.

May VCU or its staff members assist me with arranging for me to utilize my NIL for compensation with a business, etc.?

No. VCU and its staff members may not arrange for our student-athletes to participate in NIL contracts or activities.

May Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) or VCU Athletics marks, logos or other institutional property be used in my proposed NIL-contract (e.g., student-athlete filming endorsement ad while wearing VCU hat)?

Student-athletes are not permitted to use VCU’s intellectual property, including its athletics uniforms, trademarks, logos, or symbols, to either implicitly or expressly endorse a third party or product without the prior written approval of VCU’s Office of Trademarks and Licensing. Student-athletes may autograph and sell officially licensed memorabilia that includes University marks. Per NCAA Rules, student-athletes may not sell products provided by VCU Athletics or awards received for intercollegiate athletic participation while they are a student-athlete.

May I receive NIL compensation based on my athletics performance at VCU?

No

May an NIL contact or offer stipulate that I must compete for, or attend VCU (or any other NCAA member school?

No

May I be compensated for NIL activities when I am engaged in official team activities (e.g., team travel, competition, practice, community service, etc.)?

No. For example, if you are at a VCU Athletics-organized fan event or at an away-from-home competition, you may not be compensated for your autograph or photo because you are engaged in official team activities. In short, if you are participating in some activity because VCU Athletics organized it, then it’s an official team activity.

Are there any industries or products that I may not endorse?

Student-athletes are prohibited from engaging in NIL activities involving a commercial product or service that conflicts with existing NCAA legislation (e.g., sports wagering, banned substances). Student-athletes must not use their NIL to promote casinos or gambling, including sports betting; alcohol products; tobacco and electronic smoking products and devices; cannabis, cannabinoids, cannabidiol, or other derivatives; drug paraphernalia; adult entertainment; weapons, including firearms and ammunition; substances banned by the NCAA; or products or services that are illegal.

Student-athletes cannot engage in NIL activities for a competitor of any existing VCU sponsorship arrangement.

Can I just post my Cash App or Vemno for people to give me money because of my status student-athlete?

No. NCAA extra benefit and recruiting inducement rules still apply. Payment for NIL activities must include an action on your part (e.g., promotion, appearance, autograph, etc.). Otherwise, the receipt of money could be an extra benefit or preferential treatment violation and jeopardize your eligibility for athletics participation.

How do I report it if there is no contract involved?

Even if you do not have a written contract, you should still report your NIL activity in the ARMS NIL Disclosure Form. Although most binding contracts are in writing, an oral contract could in some circumstances be legally binding. Additionally, it is important the activity be reviewed by VCU Athletics personnel to ensure there are no other NCAA rules that may affect you.

How do I know if it's NIL income or an "extra benefit"?

If your income is not related to a legitimate NIL arrangement and only because of your status as a VCU student-athlete, it is likely an extra benefit and could jeopardize your eligibility.

Can NIL compensation affect my eligibility for a Pell Grant or other need-based financial aid?

It is possible depending on how much compensation you receive. You are encouraged to contact VCU Athletics Compliance to be connected with the financial aid office to evaluate potential impact.

Am I required to provide VCU Athletics with a cut of any NIL Money I earn?

No

Do I have to pay taxes on the NIL money I earn?

Yes, any NIL income earned is subject to state and/or federal taxes. VCU Athletics cannot provide specific tax advice to student-athletes, so any tax questions would need to be referred to a tax professional.

Can a non-United States (U.S.) resident/international student-athlete earn NIL compensation?

International student-athletes should discuss how receiving compensation may impact their VISA status with the Global Education Office (GEO) prior to engaging in any NIL activities.

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