Welcome to 2022, college athletes!
A new year and new semester (or quarter) means another refresher on the rules. While each school has its own NIL policy, here are four general compliance reminders as you get back into the swing of things.
- Be careful using school trademarks and logos. (The school or athletic department owns them, not you)
School trademarks and logos are intellectual property of the institution. In other words: You need permission to use them. Plus, using them may be against your school’s NIL policy or state law.
You need to know if you can use school logos in your endorsements before agreeing or doing anything. This can mean things like:
- Wearing team gear for a fan shoutout
- Using game photos to promote a product
- Having a logo in the background of the image you send to a partner
- Doing a sponsor video in the team locker room
- Featuring a trademarked hashtag in a social media post
If you’re not allowed to show logos in personal deals, re-do the content or find another photo. If you are allowed, per your school’s NIL policy, clear it with your athletic department before you post.
Remember: Using a school logo in non-monetized content is okay. This can include a photo with teammates on the bus or a “day in a life” video you made with no product endorsements or sponsor mentions. If you made money and the logo is used or visible, pause. If you posted on social media for personal reasons, you are good to go.
And always make sure the content represents you and the logo well.
- Review and understand your contracts. (Not all have formal contracts, but you’re responsible for all of it)
If you agree to an NIL partnership, you have entered into a contract.
But not every deal will have a formal contract. It could even be saying “yes” to a deal – in writing or verbally – after seeing a few details. Not a good idea. Imagine saying “yes” to a deal sent in your DMs without first seeing everything you’re agreeing to. You need to understand all the terms and what they mean.
Contracts could also include “pay for play” or enrollment contingencies. If they do, those are in direct violation of the NCAA’s interim NIL policy. Examples of such language would be:
- “Contract is deemed void if athlete enters transfer portal or leaves the current institution”
- “$10,000 bonus for earning all-conference honors”
If a contract you receive sounds like that, work with the partner and let them know that is a violation of the NCAA rules. You are responsible to notify them and it’s your eligibility at stake. Don’t assume brands know the rules.
- Disclose all deals. (Make sure you will stay on the field)
Don’t forget one of the most important steps: Disclose your NIL activities to your school’s compliance office. Nearly every school requires athletes to submit details of an NIL deal.
Each school will have its own process for athletes to send NIL disclosures. It may be an online form or a physical form that needs to be completed. If your school uses Opendorse Monitor™, you can easily report through your Opendorse app. And if you do your deals through Opendorse, you can auto-disclose details directly to your school.
If you don’t know your school’s process, immediately check with your compliance department. Some schools even require an NIL activity to be disclosed before you do the deal. Now is a good time to get a refresher on the process: when, where, and how.
- Tax withholding. (April is coming, ready or not)
April 18 (the government’s tax deadline day) may be weeks away, but don’t leave things to the last minute. Organize all your 2021 NIL activities. Know who paid you, what you received as compensation (can be product or money), and when you completed the activity.
Also, know which partners you worked with will be sending you a 1099 Form. Any partner that paid you $600 or more over the course of 2021 is required to send you a 1099 Form. This is typically sent in late January or early February, and it’s sent to your address on the W-9 form you submitted to them with the agreement.
If you were paid less than $600, they are not required to send you a 1099. But that does not mean you do not have to pay taxes. You need to report all income earned, and some of those opportunities will need to be reported by you without receiving a 1099.
If you received products or meals instead of cash, you may not receive a 1099. For tax purposes, though, you need to know the total value of those deals and report that as taxable income.
Find a tax preparer or work with an accountant to file your taxes. It may be your first time going through this, but it’s standard for all taxpayers. Don’t feel alone, get help from an expert.
As you look ahead to 2022, there are other important considerations like NIL for international student-athletes, using of school facilities for camps, and more. These are worth asking your compliance department at the start of the semester as a reminder or at least before doing any deal. They are a helpful resource for you.