Got questions on student-athlete pay? He has answers
Assistant Athletic Director Logan Hittle shares how Ohio State helps students navigate Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deal-making.
Since the NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy went into effect in 2021, student-athletes at Ohio State have signed more than 2,000 deals for making endorsements on social media, appearing in public and otherwise monetizing their personal brands.
At the same time, the Department of Athletics has been pursuing its own NIL mission, one with an appropriately educational spin: equipping students with the personal and entrepreneurial skills to navigate these new waters, which can offer big life lessons.
NIL wasn’t yet a thing when Logan Hittle ’19, ’23 MS played his senior year as a walk-on linebacker for the Buckeyes in 2019. But now, he’s part of Athletics’ team dedicated to educating student-athletes across all 36 Ohio State sports.
Hittle, assistant athletic director of NIL, recently answered your questions about practices, policies and possible impacts here at the university.
Q: What guidance is provided to the students? — Susan Reed ’90 DVM
A: At Ohio State, we see NIL as an opportunity to educate student-athletes on various topics, knowledge that they can carry with them beyond their time here. So, we provide training focusing on, but not limited to, personal branding, financial literacy and contract terminology/negotiation. For example, we’ve brought in an NIL education consultant, Advance NIL, to provide in-person sessions for teams and any interested student-athletes, and we’ve also collaborated with the Moritz College of Law to provide contract review services through its Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic.
We want to equip our athletes with the tools to feel confident in their ability to efficiently navigate the NIL landscape.
Q: Who can provide the money? What are the limitations? — Colleen Murnane ’95 JD
A: NIL opportunities can be provided by a brand, organization or individual as long as the student-athlete provides some type of service for the compensation (what’s referred to as quid pro quo). Compensation can be anything from a gift-in-kind product to monetary compensation.
There are a few limitations:
- Ohio State cannot directly compensate student-athletes.
- Student-athletes cannot promote brands that fall in the categories of adult entertainment, casinos/gambling, hard liquor, tobacco or marijuana and associated products.
- Student-athletes cannot engage in NIL activities during team functions.
Q: I’m curious to know the percentage of athletes benefiting from NIL who participate in a non-revenue producing sport. I’m sure many of those athletes play a sport without an option to go pro. — Scott N. Smith ’87
A: Ohio State has had more than 450 student-athletes across all 36 sports engage in NIL activities. The majority of our student-athletes are not on full scholarships, and NIL allows them to potentially mitigate student-loan debt before graduation.
We have seen some of our Olympic sport student-athletes utilize camps and clinics to generate NIL revenue or become elite content creators, along with pursuing many other innovative NIL avenues, to generate personal revenue. Some of the sports that have led the way in NIL engagement include, yes, football, but also women’s volleyball and dance.
Q: How do we keep student-athletes focused on being a team and playing for a school versus self-interest with money and endorsement deals? — Lisa Anne Conley Harmon ’84
A: Our coaching staffs do a phenomenal job of recruiting student-athletes with the highest character and moral compass. This allows our programs to develop an elite culture of athletes who want to be at Ohio State and compete at the highest level on and off the field.
We have seen student-athletes advocate for gifting opportunities in their personal deals to help out teammates, teammates run camps together to increase revenue and other similar stories, which show that our athletes understand the importance of being a Buckeye and part of a team.
Q: How is it regulated? — Mary Middleton ’65
A: NIL is regulated via policy from the NCAA that outlines what is permissible and impermissible. Secondarily, the NCAA has stated that institutions refer to the law in their home state, if there is one. [In Ohio, those rules are spelled out in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3376.] This has created some deviations in policy across the country.
And I want alumni to know, we have more details about NIL posted at ohiostatebuckeyes.com/feature/nil.