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Navigating Name, Image, and Likeness

UVM athletic department working on guidelines for athletes in new era
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 8:18 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The floodgates are open. At midnight Eastern time on Thursday morning, the NCAA’s new policy on the use of name, image, and likeness went into affect. Some of the biggest names in college sports, both on and off the field and court were quick to sign endorsement deals or even create their own product lines.

“Certainly acknowledging that yesterday’s decision and announcement from the NCAA is a really important milestone in the continuing evolution of college athletics,” said UVM Director of Athletics Jeff Schulman. “I’m certainly happy for our student athletes and student athletes around the country with the new opportunities that they’ll have.”

There haven’t been any big announcements from any University of Vermont athletes just yet, but the school is prepared for that eventuality. UVM released a set of guidelines to their student athletes on Wednesday, but Schulman says it’s pretty wide open in what is allowed.

“There’s no restrictions on who the third parties can be, whether they’re individuals or businesses,” he said. “The key is that they have to have an actual exchange of services, it can’t just be paying a student athlete.”

Schulman mentioned the creativity of the school’s athletes in the expectation that we’ll likely see some social media endorsement or “influencer” deals coming soon, something that is pretty common for 18-22 year olds but until now would have put athletic eligibility in question.

The guidelines also call for student athletes to disclose any agreement they make to the school to make sure they stay within NCAA or legal guidelines...but there’s really only one thing UVM won’t allow.

“They’re not permitted to enter into any sort of sponsorship agreement that would directly conflict with one of our existing sponsors,” Schulman said. “We’re a Nike school and have a partnership with Nike. We don’t want our athletes out there publicly promoting products that directly conflict.”

The wider national expectation of these new rules is that athletes in the big money sports like football and men’s basketball stand to gain the most, but Schulman says that may not be the case.

“We may be surprised by what student athletes really end up benefiting from this,” he said. “I mean I think about some of our athletes that are heroes in their hometowns who could go and run a camp or clinic in field hockey or swimming or lacrosse or something that might not be quite as high profile as some of our other programs, but they could end up doing really really well.”

And as for how it might affect recruiting or competitive balance...

“You know, I think the fact that we’re in a state without significant professional sports and we’re the only division 1 school in the state of Vermont may create some NIL type opportunities for our student athletes,” Schulman said. “And as long as it’s not interfering with their academic work or their work with us, we’re gonna be supportive of that. We’ve been successful at recruiting great students and great athletes who have had a lot of success and bring a lot of pride and spirit to our campus and to our state, and I don’t think this will change that.”

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