A New Name, Image, and Likeness Opportunity for Student Athletes Expanding the Realm of Possibilities

Photo of Brianna E. Burns
Brianna E. Burns
Associate, Corporate Department
Published: McLane Middleton
December 22, 2023

The excitement surrounding the college football bowl games is something to look forward to each winter. This year, one bowl game in particular is not just creating a stir due to the matchup and anticipation of the game itself, it is getting people talking about Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) possibilities.

The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is being played by the West Virginia Mountaineers and the North Carolina Tar Heels in Charlotte, North Carolina. As part of this bowl game, the Duke’s Mayo Bowl has launched a new NIL platform that provides fans an opportunity to engage with players in NIL activities. This new platform sets out to allow fans to pay bowl game players for things such as shoutouts, social media posts, appearances, or autographs. The platform also allows Charlotte area businesses to partner with the players on NIL deals. In addition to the new platform, one player from the winning team will become the “Duke’s Mayo Bowl Ambassador”, which comes with a $5,000 contract to promote the bowl game through social media and in-person appearances in the offseason.

As the world of NIL deals in college athletics continues to be debated within the NCAA and Congress, the development of this new platform makes things even more interesting. It calls into question if a payment from a private individual, who may not get anything of value in return for the payment, to a student-athlete could or should violate any applicable league or school policy, and how this relationship would be regulated. It seemingly also provides the athletes more freedom. They are able to appeal to a fan by doing a one-time shoutout, autograph signing, social media post, or an in-person appearance without committing to a contract with a company or brand in the long-term. There is no competition between each fan requesting something from the athlete through the portal, so the athlete does not have to turn down one request to fulfill another.

Even though this platform is specific to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, it will be interesting to see if this concept is incorporated into the ever-evolving NIL world moving forward and whether NIL regulations will evolve as well.