Personal sponsorships let athletes use their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights to build their brand, but athlete endorsement agreements need to be carefully constructed in order to avoid conflicting with the promotional rights of teams, schools, and/or governing bodies.
College Athletes Need to Consult an Attorney to Avoid a Conflict of Interest
When negotiating the terms of a sponsorship deal, you want to avoid overpromising or agreeing to something you can’t do without jeopardizing your spot on the team. For example, a college basketball player would be allowed to sign an agreement with Adidas under the recently introduced NIL rules for NCAA student-athletes. However, if their school was already sponsored by Nike, they might not be allowed to wear Adidas shoes or apparel during games or team functions.
If a personal sponsorship deal conflicts with a team or school sponsorship, it is likely that the terms of the team or school sponsorship will take precedence. The penalty for violating a team or school sponsorship agreement will depend on the specific code of conduct for team members, but it may include suspension and/or fines. A breach of contract related to your personal sponsorship could have even more serious consequences, so it’s essential that you understand your obligations as both an individual athlete and a team/school member.
Special Considerations for Olympic Athletes
Olympic athletes are governed by Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter, which restricts sponsorship opportunities for individual athletes during the period of the Olympic Games. Rule 40 has traditionally enforced a blackout period for personal sponsorships during the Olympics, but in the past couple of years, the IOC has begun to permit Olympic athletes to profit from individual sponsorships in a limited way during the Olympic Games. In 2019, IOC Rule 40 was revised to allow an Olympic athlete to benefit from a generic sponsorship agreement that is part of a longstanding campaign.
Do You Need to Speak With an Experienced Sports Law Attorney?
Global Sports Advocates has represented athletes from over 50 countries spanning nearly every sports category. Our attorneys regularly handle NIL and sponsorship agreements for NCAA, Olympic, and professional athletes. Contact us online or call us directly at +1-207-747-5899 to schedule a free consultation.