Yesterday, I wrote about the history of the NCAA’s assembling of the rights to an array of trademarks associated with this month’s basketball tournament. Today, I will provide some examples of the activities that can bring unwanted NCAA attention to your advertisements or broadcasting of advertising. But, first, I will discuss yet one more issue that should be considered.
Endorsements by Individual Student-Athletes
After many years of litigation, in July 2021, the NCAA suspended its policy prohibiting college athletes from profiting from their names, images and likenesses (“NIL”) (or their right of publicity) without losing their eligibility. However, there is no national set of rules as to what is permissible. Rather, the right of publicity is governed by state law. Moreover, colleges and universities still have the right establish some rules or standards. For example, although student-athletes can now get paid to endorse a commercial product, they are not automatically entitled to use any NCAA or school trademarks. Thus, a college basketball player may not be authorized to wear their uniform in advertising unless the school has granted permission. Can the player wear a uniform with the school colors, but no names or logos? Can the player endorse an alcoholic product? Answers will vary state by state and school by school, so it will be extremely important to check with experienced counsel before running any advertising that involves college players.