Sutton Associates


Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL)

What is NIL?

On June 30, 2021, the Division 1 Board of Directors approved a Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy. This new policy allows all NCAA D1, D2 and D3 student-athletes to be compensated for their NIL, regardless of whether their state has a NIL law in place or not.  

Historically, college athletes were not allowed to earn money from their athletic fame, as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) maintained strict amateurism rules that prevented athletes from receiving compensation beyond scholarships and stipends.

However, in recent years, there has been a growing movement and legal challenges advocating for college athletes’ right to capitalize on their own NIL. The argument is that athletes should be able to benefit from their popularity and marketability, just like any other student. This has led to changes in regulations and laws in various states and at the federal level.

As laws continue to develop and the landscape of NIL evolves, the regulations that govern athletes and agents are slow to adjust. Currently there are no specific NCAA regulations that require NIL agents to undergo background checks before working with NCAA/Youth Athletes.

NIL for Athletes

When Student-Athletes are considering partnerships with Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Agencies it is important to choose an Agency that can be trusted. 

The benefits of a vetted NIL Agency include:

Reputation Protection:

Background checks help student-athletes avoid associating with NIL companies that might have a negative reputation or history of unethical practices. Protecting their personal brand and credibility is crucial.

Protection from Scams:

Background checks help identify potential scams or fraudulent NIL companies, protecting student-athletes from being exploited or misled.

Personal Safety:

For student-athletes involved in physical events or interactions with NIL companies, background checks can provide assurance that the company prioritizes safety and professionalism.

Alignment with Values:

Student-athletes often have established personal brands with specific values and beliefs. Conducting a background check ensures that the NIL company's values align with theirs, preventing potential conflicts or controversies.

Trust and Authenticity:

By partnering with reputable NIL companies, student-athletes enhance their trustworthiness among their audience. Authentic endorsements of legitimate companies are more likely to resonate with followers.

Long-Term Partnerships:

A thorough background check enables student-athletes to build sustainable relationships with trustworthy NIL companies. Long-term collaborations are beneficial for consistent income and brand growth.

Working with a Vetted Agency is a vital step for student-athletes to safeguard their brand, reputation, and audience trust. By doing so, student-athletes can make informed decisions that lead to successful and mutually beneficial collaborations while avoiding potential pitfalls. 

NIL for Agencies

It’s not just the athletes that take on risk when partnering with an NIL Agency. The agents themselves must also be cognizant of the risks that the athletes and their sponsorships bring to the business.

Certifying your Agency brings an extra level of security and trust to your business, your agents, and your athletes. 

Sutton recommends vetting your agents, your athletes, and your sponsorships to create a strong foundation that your clients can trust.

Vetting your Agency

Sutton will run a comprehensive Due Diligence investigation on your entire organization and provide your business with our Sutton Certification. Our certification demonstrates to your clients and sponsors that your business is transparent, honest, and trustworthy. 

Selling Tool for The Company:

NIL is a new industry that doesn’t have criminal background checks in place. Using a proper vetting system for all members of the company has many benefits when attracting new clients.

Brand Enhancement:

Becoming a fully vetted NIL Agency creates a standard of trust between your agents and your clients and demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability.

Credibility and Authenticity:

Our vetting can reveal any past legal issues, controversies, or instances of misconduct. Identifying these issues beforehand allows you to assess potential risks and create a safer environment for student-athletes.

Vetting your Athletes

Performing a background check on your student-athletes provides your agency with better candidates. Social media screenings and criminal record searches are easy ways to identify better candidates and protect your brand.

Content Alignment:

Background checks can help brands ensure that a student-athletes’ past content aligns with the brand's values and messaging. This prevents any potential conflicts between the student-athletes’ previous content and the brand's marketing goals.

Risk Mitigation:

Background checks can reveal any past legal issues, controversies, or instances of misconduct. Identifying these issues beforehand allows brands to assess potential risks associated with partnering with a particular student-athletes and make informed decisions.

Avoiding Negative Publicity:

If a student-athletes’ negative history or behavior comes to light after a collaboration has already started, it can lead to negative publicity for both the student-athletes and the brand. Background checks minimize the chances of such surprises, helping brands avoid potential PR crises.

Audience Safety:

Brands want to ensure that their products or services are promoted to a safe and appropriate audience. Background checks can identify any potential issues that might arise if a student-athletes has a history of promoting controversial or harmful content.

Transparency and Accountability:

Student-athletes with a transparent history are more likely to maintain accountability for their actions and content. Brands can feel more confident working with student-athletes who have a record of ethical behavior and responsible content creation.

Long-Term Partnerships:

Brands often look for long-term partnerships with student-athletes who can consistently represent their brand positively. Background checks can help brands identify student-athletes with a history of professional behavior and reliable content creation, increasing the likelihood of a successful and lasting collaboration.

Vetting your Sponsors

Due Diligence checks on sponsorship companies help student-athletes and agencies make informed decisions, protect their reputation, maintain ethical alignment, and ensure a successful and mutually beneficial collaboration. It’s essential to conduct these checks in a thorough and ethical manner, using reliable sources and information.

Brand Alignment:

Due diligence helps student-athletes ensure that the sponsorship company's values, mission, and products align with their personal brand. This alignment is crucial for maintaining authenticity and credibility with their audience.

Credibility Enhancement:

Collaborating with reputable and trustworthy sponsorship companies enhances a student-athletes’ credibility. The student-athletes’ audience is more likely to trust their recommendations when associated with reputable brands. Agencies can also rest assured that they are collaborating with trustworthy companies.

Avoiding Controversies:

Thorough due diligence minimizes the risk of inadvertently associating with companies that might have a history of controversies, legal issues, or unethical practices. This protects both the student-athletes’ reputation and the brand's image.

Mitigating Financial Risks:

Investigating a sponsorship company's financial stability reduces the risk of non-payment or financial issues that could arise during or after a collaboration.

Safety of Athletes:

For student-athletes involved in physical events or activations, due diligence ensures that the sponsorship company's events are organized professionally and prioritizes the safety of all participants.

College and Universities

Colleges and Universities, along with their collectives, should have the ability to proactively assist student-athletes in developing and creating NIL activity. The development of NIL assistance within the schools allows athletic departments to oversee their student-athletes in a hands-on environment and provide resources that the students may not receive from outside sources. 

How Colleges and Universities benefit from Sutton Vetting:

Protecting Student-Athletes:

Vetting NIL activities can ensure that student-athletes are engaged in lawful and ethical business ventures. It helps prevent them from becoming involved in potentially damaging or illegal activities that could harm their reputations and prospects.

Educational Opportunities:

Colleges and universities can use the vetting process to educate student-athletes about financial literacy, contracts, branding, and entrepreneurship. This can empower them to make informed decisions and manage their finances effectively, preparing them for life beyond their athletic careers.

Promoting Responsible Behavior:

By having a vetting process, colleges and universities can encourage responsible behavior and ensure that student-athletes are representing themselves and the institution in a manner consistent with the values and standards set by the institution.

Compliance with Regulations:

Vetting NIL activities can help colleges and universities comply with evolving state and national regulations regarding NIL. This compliance is essential to avoid legal challenges and ensure that the institution is operating within the bounds of the law.

Enhancing Athlete's Value:

Through vetting, educational institutions can assist student-athletes in making sound business decisions, negotiate favorable terms, and enhance their overall value and reputation. This can lead to more lucrative and sustainable opportunities in the long term.

Collaboration and Partnerships:

Vetting can facilitate collaboration and partnerships between student-athletes, the institution, and external entities. It can ensure that partnerships are mutually beneficial, transparent, and aligned with the overall goals of both parties.

Safeguard Your Future With Sutton's NIL Services

Whether you’re an athlete or an agency, get in touch with Sutton Associates to find a Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) solution that best fits your needs.