Athletes discuss the limits of media and sponsorship deals
Have you ever wondered to what extent student-athletes use their own image for advertising? Doing so involves many media rules implemented not only by the school, but also by the NCAA.
As many athletes are interviewed, quoted and used in advertisements for the school, Michael Scarano, associate director of athletics and director of compliance, emphasized the importance for athletes to follow media policies.
“Specific media rules for athletes are not necessarily NCAA rules,” Scarano said. “However, it is not uncommon that most athletic departments have policies and (or) guidelines that address student-athlete media relations and social media. For example, CBU Athletics has guidelines in the student-athlete handbook relative to media relations and social media/website policy.”
Erin Gallagher, master’s of business administration student and player for the women’s soccer team, knows the basic rules of media and advertising but would check the handbook before signing any sponsorship contract.
“I am aware of the rules for student-athletes, but only to an extent,” Gallagher said. “I understand the most basic ones, but I have found that it is hard to understand what is allowed and what is not when it comes to specific terms. However, I know that one of my limitations is that I would have to refrain from working with some companies because they would not correlate with the values of our school.”
Gallagher said she appreciates that NCAA finally approved athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness (NIL) activities. With this new NCAA NIL policy, she is now able to be sponsored by the company Liquid IV. This policy allows athletes to get their name and image out to the public and sponsors.
“My partnership with Liquid IV is essential to me, especially when preparing for soccer games,” Gallagher said. “Athletes must stay hydrated, so I am grateful for my NIL allowing me to receive these hydration assistant packs. I receive them once a month and I get new flavors each time. Before I got this deal, I had to pay about $12 for each package, so saving this money helps me fund other important activities.”
Silvia De La Peña, master’s of business administration student and member of the women’s cross country and track team, feels informed of media rules in general since she gets a plethora of informational emails about the rules of NIL. As a student-athlete, she also needs to attend compliance meetings every semester.
“I believe, as athletes, we must be very careful when separating our sponsors from the school we represent,” De La Peña said. “I personally do not have sponsors, but the athletes that are sponsored are not allowed to post their sponsorship-related content wearing their university gear since college teams and sponsors are two separate entities. The NCAA is very clear with those rules as they do not want athletes to involve their respective universities with outside deals.”
“Even though our coaches and CBU compliance staff do a great job at keeping us informed and aware of the NCAA rules, it can sometimes be difficult to remember all these regulations since there are very detailed. On top of that, NCAA rules are constantly changing, so something that was allowed two years ago might no be longer allowed or vice versa. Because of that, our leaders must stay on track with any change implemented by the NCAA.”
While athletes being used for advertising outside of the school is allowed, they must meet certain conditions to participate in intercollegiate athletics. Scarano mentioned that some of these conditions are that the athlete must be involved in advertising for reasons independent of athletic ability, no reference must be made in these activities to the athlete’s name or involvement in intercollegiate athletics and the individual must not endorse the commercial product.
“Even if student-athletes meet the above guidelines, there could also be institutional policies that could impact their advertising limits,” Scarano said. “For example, if there is an institutional policy regarding the promotion of a banned substance, this institutional policy might preclude that student-athlete from being in an advertisement about the banned substance. Of course, legalities could ensue.”
Media and sponsorship is an increasingly important part of college sports for many athletes here at CBU. Being aware of the rules and the consequences that could follow is important for every athlete to know.