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Innovative Education


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Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't D-I-Y NIL

Thanks to the NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness ruling, the stakes have never been higher for collegiate athletes – and some high school athletes in states where NIL rules are changing. Student-athletes now have the chance to leverage NIL for opportunities that range from small deals to incredibly lucrative partnerships. Nevertheless, the allure of NIL deals can lead to unforeseen pitfalls. It's crucial to recognize that, without a solid understanding of the foundations of NIL, diving into deals can be a risky endeavor.

We talked to Mercedes Sapp, a former D1 athlete whose NIL deals included one with Mercedes-Benz. She is now a student-athlete enhancement coordinator at the University of South Florida. She provided five tips related to NIL. 

1. know what you’re getting into

While the rules are changing, there are still rules in place. Student-athletes (and their parents, in many cases) need to know and understand them. The rules vary by state, too. You need to be sure that your deal doesn’t impact your eligibility. Understanding foundational information related to NIL crucial. Armed with the right information, student-athletes can make informed decisions and harness opportunities to secure their futures. 


Anyone considering an NIL deal will inevitably encounter terminology related to contracts and deals. They are often full of legal jargon. However, having a grasp of these terms is not just a matter of legal compliance; it is a strategic advantage. It ensures that you are making informed decisions, protecting your interests, and avoiding potential pitfalls in the world of agreements and negotiations.

3. the compliance team is an ally 

Be sure to disclose NIL activity with the compliance team at your university (or, for high schoolers, the university you wish to attend). Failing to do so could lead to eligibility issues or have tax implications. Your compliance team can help ensure that you follow and abide by all regulations.

4. document when and how you receive funds

While verbal agreements and handshake deals have been around forever, and are often great, written agreements are key to NIL deals. You must document how the deal happened and have a written record of payment arrangements and funds received.  It establishes credibility of the deal and agreements made between the student-athlete and the company.

5. Parents can be partners

While many parents have provided tremendous support to their student-athletes at every stage of the game, and been among the biggest champions on the sidelines, sometimes they can forget that they should be partners with the student-athlete when it comes to NIL. Parents should provide guidance and make sure that deals align with their family values. But it is important for the student-athlete to negotiate the deal and to make decisions. This not only empowers them to take ownership of their future but also fosters valuable life skills they will carry beyond their athletic careers.

The bottom line: don’t D-I-Y NIL. 

People say that knowledge is power, and that is certainly the case with NIL.

The University of South Florida and Total NIL have put together a remarkable four-module Foundations in NIL certificate program to help student-athletes, parents, coaches – any anyone interested in NIL – learn more about what it takes to stay compliant, build and curate the right social media presence, and understand the anatomy of an NIL deal. 

The fully online certificate program is a useful guide for these essential skills and can be completed in just four hours. You not only gain key foundational knowledge, but you also walk away with a Credly badge to signal your understanding of the key concepts.

Register now at

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USF Innovative Education is a powerhouse of creativity and collaboration, offering a range of faculty-related services including learning design, multimedia development, technology integration, and support for teaching and learning. We help faculty transform courses into dynamic learning experiences, providing training and support for various programs. We work with both experienced and new faculty, assisting them in integrating technology and staying up to date with educational trends.