Risk Management in the NIL World


  • Peter Schoenthal, CEO, Athliance
  • Courtney Altemus, CEO & Founder, TeamAltemus
  • Alejandro Bedoya, Midfielder – Philadelphia Union, MLS
  • Brent Blaylock, Senior Associate Athletic Director – Compliance, University of Arizona
  • Tom McMillen, President & CEO, LEAD1 Association

Webinar Recap

As institutions begin to contract with outside entities to provide educational, developmental, and evaluation services related to student-athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL) activities, both student-athletes, as well as institutions themselves, will need to be fully informed on the various NIL nuances to avoid potential liability. In that light, on Tuesday, LEAD1 hosted its latest webinar with NIL compliance software company, Athliance, discussing key themes that athletic departments should consider before NIL goes live. LEAD1 CEO and President, Tom McMillen, moderated the webinar, which featured Athliance CEO, Peter Schoenthal, Philadelphia Union Midfielder (MLS), Alejandro Bedoya, TeamAltemus CEO, Courtney Altemus, and Senior Associate AD (Compliance) at the University of Arizona, Brent Blaylock.

On the panel, Athliance emphasized the need for institutions to mitigate potential liability given that institutions (at least under the NCAA’s current proposal) would be providing educational programming on NIL and associated regulations, assisting in evaluating opportunities and professional service providers, as well as with compliance and disclosure expectations. Student-athletes would likely be relying upon the information provided by institutions to make decisions, which could create liability.

Student-athletes could also be liable, including potentially face ineligibility, based upon receiving impermissible benefits from third party vendors. This could occur as a result of either the institution’s failure to properly communicate information and/or a student-athlete’s decision that violates applicable regulations. Institutions should, therefore, be preparing now to educate third party vendors, including even well-intentioned boosters with regard to the anticipated NIL rule changes. In that vein, according to Blaylock, athletic departments should communicate all applicable rules from the start to mitigate such possibilities.

There may also be possible scenarios that have not been clearly legislated, for example, whether athletic compliance departments could approve a student-athlete’s NIL agreement compensated in equity with a third party vendor.  According to Athliance, “case law may need to be created in the first year [of NIL being live]” to have all of these answers. In other words, athletic departments should start preparing for what is known today, but even as applicable legislation goes into effect, not every NIL scenario will be adequately known until there are likely conflicts (or potentially lawsuits).

The main takeaway from the webinar is the need for athletic departments to eventually track all NIL agreements and start educating all involved stakeholders. The NIL compliance software companies that LEAD1 has presented recently can help athletic departments accomplish just that.

More on NIL’s impact on recruiting and “locker room culture” can be found in the recording.