USC Athletics Student-Athlete Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Policy

Applies to: Students, Employees, Volunteers, and Athletic Boosters

1. Policy

Issued: July 13, 2021
Last Revised: July 13, 2021
Last Reviewed: July 13, 2021

2. Policy Purpose

The vision of USC is to have the most student-athlete centered athletics program in the nation.  In alignment with that vision, we support the ability of our student-athletes to earn compensation from third parties for the use of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”), consistent with this Policy and California’s Fair Pay to Play Act.  While the Act may not become effective until September 1, 2021 or later, it is USC’s desire to provide student-athletes with the same rights immediately as of the effective date of this Policy and for the Policy’s provisions to be interpreted and applied consistently with the statutory language and intent of the Fair Pay to Play Act.

Purpose and Interpretation

The purpose of this policy is to empower student-athletes to earn NIL compensation in a manner that is consistent with NCAA rules, California state law, and the culture and mission of USC.  It is each student-athlete’s responsibility to understand and comply with this policy, NCAA rules, and applicable law.  Student-athletes are encouraged to review this policy closely, consult with trusted representatives, and share it with potential professional service providers and sponsors.  Questions about this policy may be raised to the Athletics Department.  Importantly, this policy is expected to evolve over time as laws, rules, and guidance change, and as the university learns more about how to best foster this new opportunity for its student-athletes. 

Prospective student-athletes should consult their state laws and high school athletics associations regarding questions pertaining to NIL compensation and high school eligibility. 

It is USC’s intent that this policy be interpreted consistently with the language and intent of California law and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (Title IX).  To the extent that NCAA rules or other rules conflict with California law and/or Title IX, USC, USC employees, and student-athletes must follow California law and Title IX rather than conflicting NCAA rules or other rules.

3. Scope and Application

All university students, employees, volunteers, and athletic boosters must adhere to this policy, which also acts as a guide for student-athlete representatives and other third parties with interests in NIL activity. 

4. Policy Details and Definitions

A. NIL Compensation Permitted.  Student-athletes may earn compensation from third parties as a result of the use of their NIL.  Examples of permissible NIL activity include appearance in television, print, or social media advertisements for commercial products or services; sale of autographs; conducting camps; and personal appearances by a student-athlete.   

B. Prohibited Compensation Arrangements.  For the avoidance of doubt, NIL compensation may not include any of the following:

  • Compensation in exchange for a student-athlete’s athletic participation or performance at USC (i.e., “pay-for-play”);
  • Compensation in exchange for a student-athlete’s decision to attend USC (i.e., improper recruiting inducements); and
  • Compensation for work not performed (i.e., sham agreements with third parties in which a student-athlete does not provide a legitimate NIL-related service).

C.  Conflicts with USC Team Contracts. State law prohibits student-athletes from entering into NIL contracts that conflict with USC’s team contracts.  For example, during official team activities student-athletes may be prohibited from promoting products or services that compete with Nike, Coca-Cola, Powerade, Muscle Milk, and United Airlines.

D. Disclosure of Student-Athlete NIL Contracts.  Student-athletes must disclose all NIL contracts to Scott Simon, USC’s Associate Vice President for Athletic Compliance, by submitting a disclosure form using the INFLCR software application.  All NIL contracts must be disclosed, regardless of the amount of compensation and regardless of whether the agreement is oral or in writing.  This disclosure to USC is required by law and necessary for USC to determine whether a conflict exists between a student-athlete’s proposed NIL contract and a USC team contract.  Student-athletes are strongly encouraged to refrain from finalizing NIL contracts until after USC has completed its review for conflicts.  In the event USC determines that a conflict exists, it will disclose that conflict to the student-athlete and/or their representative. 

E. Permitted Times for NIL Activities.  USC expects that student-athletes will not engage in NIL activities that interfere with official team activities or academic activities (e.g., during class, study hall, exams, and assessments).  Students are responsible for any consequences related to missing team or academic activities due to NIL activities or any other non-excused purpose consistent with USC policy.

F. Use of USC Marks.  Student-athletes may not (i) wear USC uniforms, team apparel, or gear, or (ii) use or display USC logos, trademarks, or other intellectual property owned by USC (e.g., photos, videos, etc.) in connection with NIL activities.

G. Use of USC Facilities.   Student-athletes may not use USC facilities, staff, or other resources in connection with NIL activities without prior written approval from USC, and such use must comply with USC’s standard policies and practices (e.g., execution of a facility rental agreement).

H. Risk of Confusion.  If USC determines, in its sole discretion, that certain NIL activities involving a student-athlete’s use of USC marks or facilities create a risk of confusion as to USC’s affiliation with such activities, USC may require the student-athlete to clarify through written disclaimers or otherwise that USC is not affiliated with and does not endorse the activities.  USC may also require that the student-athlete cease unauthorized use of USC marks or facilities.

I. Professional Representation.  Student-athletes may obtain professional representation from persons licensed by the State of California (e.g., agents, lawyers, and other professionals) to advise them regarding the use of their NIL.  Professional representation must be reported to the Office of Athletic Compliance.

J. Boosters.  Representatives of USC’s athletic interests are permitted to enter into NIL contracts with student-athletes, subject to the provisions of this Policy and applicable NCAA rules (e.g., prohibitions on “pay-for-play” arrangements and improper recruiting inducements).

K. Inappropriate Sponsorships. To protect and present an appropriate image, USC does not enter into sponsorship agreements involving certain products and services.  USC strongly discourages student-athletes from entering into NIL contracts related to illegal substances, illegal conduct, or anything else, including but not limited to sports wagering and supplements, that might impact their NCAA eligibility or long-term best interests.

L. USC Employees.  USC employees may not accept compensation from any third party for assisting in the development, operation, or promotion of a NIL compensation opportunity involving a student-athlete or for any related work performed with respect to student-athlete NIL activities.

M. Scholarships and Financial Aid.  Compensation earned by student-athletes in exchange for NIL activities will not impact any scholarships provided by USC.  However, NIL compensation may affect a student-athlete’s eligibility to receive need-based financial aid (e.g., Pell Grant, University Grant).

N. Compliance with Other Laws, USC Policies, and NCAA Rules.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, student-athletes are expected to comply with all other applicable laws, including tax laws, university policies, and NCAA rules, including but not limited to Article 12 of the NCAA Bylaws (Amateurism and Athletics Eligibility).  In addition, international student-athletes should consider consulting with government agencies for guidance related to visa and tax implications. 

5. Procedures:

N/A

6. Forms:

N/A

7. Responsibilities

 Refer to the Policy Details and Definitions section

8. Related Information

Athletics Department Webpage for Prospective Student-Athletes: https://usctrojans.com/sports/2017/6/15/genrel-usc-recruiting-html.aspx

Policies or website for rental of facilities, including e.g., Trojan Event Services: https://trojanevents.usc.edu/

Trojan Event Service site: https://trojanevents.usc.edu/outdoor-venues/outdoor-venue-request-form/

9. Contacts

Please direct any questions regarding this policy to:

OFFICEPHONEEMAIL
Athletics Department213-740-3843NILHotline@usc.edu

10. Policy URL

https://policy.usc.edu/usc-athletics-student-athlete