U.S. Citizenship Supremacy

How Immigration Laws and NCAA Policies Exclude International College Athletes From Monetizing Their Name, Image, and Likeness


  • Simran Kaur Sethi University of Oklahoma
  • Katie Lever University of Texas
  • Kirsten Hextrum University of Oklahoma




Name, Image, and Likeness, International College Athletes, Nationalism, NCAA


On July 1, 2021, most NCAA student-athletes could finally monetize their names, images, and likenesses (NIL). Although the change was both welcome and historic, international college athletes (ICAs) could not. This commentary situates NIL within the broader context of U.S. nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and college sports. We find that U.S. immigration laws combined with NCAA amateur policies prevent ICAs from monetizing their NIL. We conclude with reform suggestions at the legal, policy, and practice levels that will benefit all international students and immigrant workers.

Author Biographies

Simran Kaur Sethi, University of Oklahoma

Simran Kaur Sethi is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests include the international college athlete experience, immigration and visa policy, post-athletic career preparation and transition, and NIL.

Katie Lever, University of Texas

Katie Lever is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas. Her research interests include rhetoric and language, NCAA discourse, and sports policy/law.

Kirsten Hextrum, University of Oklahoma

Kirsten Hextrum, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Her research interests include youth sport access, college athletic recruitment and admissions, and equity, diversity, and inclusion in sport.


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