Most, if not all, of my pivotal moments in my education and entrepreneurship journey have come from being in community with Dr. Taylor Woodman (T Dub). My first interaction with T Dub was in his “International Education and Cultural Exchange: Policies and Practices” course. I took this course during the Spring 2021 semester and was introduced to diplomacy, internationalization, and virtual exchange.
One quarter (25%) of our final grade was an assignment focused on examining a policy impacting international exchange.
My policy critique?! Name, Image, and Likeness for International College Athletes (ICAs)
In my critique, I questioned why ICAs (F-1 students) were not considered during the NIL legislation proposal.
I also proposed the recommendations below.
I presented my work on May 9, 2021. Fifty two (52) days BEFORE the NCAA approved affiliated athletes to monetize their NIL.
Unfortunately, the NCAA National Office and state representatives did not review my presentation nor read my paper. Over the last two and a half years, international college athletes have been excluded from participating in NIL monetization.
But then last week happened.
Senators Pete Ricketts (NE) and Richard Blumenthal (CT) introduced the “Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) for International Collegiate Athletes Act.”
“Part-time jobs are staples of the collegiate experience,” said Senator Ricketts. “The student visa needs to be updated to reflect the new NIL rules in collegiate athletics. International student athletes should be able to pursue the same opportunities as their fellow athletes from hosting summer camps for kids to appearing at events. Our common-sense bill will level the playing field to ensure American sports programs don’t lose talented student athletes because of our outdated visa system.”
This bill also received support from current athletic directors who serve at Nebraska institutions.
“I support this bill and believe international student-athletes should be able to monetize their name, image and likeness just as domestic student-athletes can without affecting their F-1 status or the benefits associated with being an F-1 student,” said Marcus Blossom, McCormick Endowed Athletic Director atCreighton University.
“We appreciate Senator Ricketts and his staff drafting this bill and are in support of the proposed legislation,” said Adrian Dowell, Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “Nearly 14% of all Maverick student-athletes are international and consequently, these students have not been able to capitalize on name, image, and likeness-related opportunities like their peers. If passed, this legislation would allow international student-athletes to market and profit from their NIL while maintaining their visa status.”
If passed, the Act would allow international college athletes to participate in NIL monetization activities – participation that is currently prohibited due to the F-1 student visa through which they are currently studying in the United States. It’s important to note that this Act would “amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide F visas and employment authorization for international college athletes who enter into endorsement contracts for the commercial use of their NIL.”
WE GOT SOME ACTION!!!
When I first saw the news, I thought the following..
Movements work. It should not have taken this long but stacked moments create movements. Loud, persistent advocacy will result in change over time.
Legislation has been drafted. This was a huge point of contention when public advocacy began. Which senators would care enough to draft legislation to move this forward? We have our answer.
We are close to revolution. We are not done yet, but we are close. Continue to be vocal and visible about this injustice in both your physical and digital environments.
But when this legislation does pass!?
International college athletes will undoubtedly lead the way in NIL monetization.
Below I share three, of the countless, reasons why.
Market expansion. ICAs represent the U.S. market AND their home country market. Partnering with ICAs will immediately expand an organization's local reach into global markets they would not have had access to otherwise.
Multi-lingual. Many ICAs speak more than one language, often two and three languages. This creates opportunity for brands to partner with ICAs who can create content in multiple languages, accessing communities who may not speak English. NFL franchises have recognized this as an opportunity for revenue generation and fan engagement, as several teams have hired full-time international content managers to create content in non-English languages to reach their global audience.
Recruiting. Students recruit students. Period. ICAs who participate in NIL activity will recruit prospective ICAs to their respective institutions. Additionally, ICA NIL participants will also attract non-athletes to attend their institution as both degree seeking and non-degree seeking students. If I saw my Cincinnati (or Ohio) peers enjoying France or Morocco on Instagram, I’m immediately tuned in and want to know how I can get to those countries and what I should do once I arrive. The same is true for the United States -- and in particular, U.S. higher education.
Okay, one more…
MEGA EVENTS!!! The FIFA Men’s World Cup will take place across North America in Summer 2026. The United States is part of a joint bid for the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The 2028 Summer Olympic Games will be hosted in Los Angeles. Countless international athletes compete for their home country in global competition. ICA's ability to monetize their NIL leading up to and after global megaevents that will be in the United States is a homerun strategy for companies and brands all over the world.
Though I’m still working on my patience, I am very confident in my vision.
ICAs will be granted the opportunity to monetize their NIL sooner than later. I said it before NIL legislation was passed and I am still standing on it today.
College athletics, collectives, and NIL third-party providers are not prepared to support international athlete involvement in NIL activity. These organizations are barely doing anything to support ICA development, so this should not be a shock.
In a future post, I will share what theses stakeholders can do to equitably equip and assist ICAs with NIL education.
Spoiler Alert: Walk With TFB.
Walk With TFB facilitates tailored programming and consultation services to ensure international athletes make informed decisions to leverage their NIL for monetization, entrepreneurship, and social impact.
It’s happening! We’re walking!