Who Is NIL Leaving Out?

Challenges and Solutions for International Student-Athletes


  • Beth D. Solomon Auburn University
  • Karina G. Jolly Troy University
  • Sarah Stokowski Clemson University
  • Sam C. Ehrlich Boise State University
  • Skye G. Arthur-Banning Clemson University




NIL, international student-athletes, F-1 visa, college athletics


The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopted name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation in July 2021. The expectation was for all NCAA student-athletes to have the opportunity to seek compensation for their NIL, but the reality is quite different. International student-athletes are not easily able to benefit from their NIL due to restrictions placed on off-campus work under the terms of their entrance visas to the United States. This paper explores the need for the NCAA, NCAA member institutions, and government agencies to re-evaluate policies in an effort to ensure all student-athletes have the right to profit off their NIL. It is crucial that the membership is aware of how international student-athletes are confined by student visa regulations. In order to create a fair and equitable experience for all student-athletes, the NCAA and athletic departments need to understand off-campus work regulations and exceptions for international student visas (F-1 visa). Additionally, there is a need to advocate for this specific sub-population of student-athletes. We explore the idea of creating the opportunity for NIL to be on considered on-campus work for international student-athletes, or perhaps even assisting this population in filing exceptions within the constructs of the law. With domestic student-athletes already benefiting from NIL, it is time to find ways to allow international student-athletes to do the same. In essence, such opportunities would create one less barrier for international student-athletes who already face difficulty adjusting to life in the US.

Author Biographies

Beth D. Solomon, Auburn University

Beth D. Solomon, PhD, is a visiting professor at Auburn University. Her research interests include leadership development, student-athlete leadership development, and student development.

Karina G. Jolly, Troy University

Karina G. Jolly, MS, is a PhD student in the Department of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management at Troy University. Her research interests center around intercollegiate athletics, athlete development, and international student-athletes.

Sarah Stokowski, Clemson University

Sarah Stokowski, PhD, is an associate professor of athletic leadership in the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development at Clemson University. Her research interests focus on college athlete development with an emphasis on the personal development literacies.

Sam C. Ehrlich, Boise State University

Sam C. Ehrlich, JD, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Management at Boise State University. His research examines legal aspects of the sports industry.

Skye G. Arthur-Banning, Clemson University

Skye G. Arthur-Banning, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University. His research interests are centered around amateur sport and specifically sport development and Para/adaptive sport programs.


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