Investigating Name, Image, and Likeness Through Project-Based Learning


  • Brendan O'Hallarn Old Dominion University
  • Craig A. Morehead Indiana State University
  • Michelle Carpenter Old Dominion University
  • Jay O'Toole Old Dominion University



project-based learning, pedagogy, personal identity, NIL, name, image, and likeness


The 2021 Supreme Court ruling granting college athletes the right to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) was greeted in equal measure by enthusiasm and confusion by college athletes and the institutions for which they compete. This paper suggests an approach whereby college classes can provide guidance for college athletes to navigate the nascent, evolving NIL rules and provide an opportunity for current, relevant project-based learning. The Old Dominion University Name, Image, and Likeness Knowledge Hub had limitations in its deliverable—a guide for college athletes seeking to leverage their NIL rights—but it represents a novel learning opportunity because of the uncertainty surrounding NIL. This can offer engaged learning for classrooms in a variety of academic disciplines. In addition, small and mid-sized university athletic departments can use this approach to help build institutional knowledge of the new athlete rights and obligations while forming robust learning partnerships with academic units on their campuses.

Author Biographies

Brendan O'Hallarn, Old Dominion University

Brendan O’Hallarn, PhD, is a senior lecturer and Strategic Communication program director in the Department of Communication & Theatre Arts at Old Dominion University. His research interests include the sociology of social media interactions and issues around NCAA name, image, and likeness regulations.

Craig A. Morehead, Indiana State University

Craig A. Morehead, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport at Indiana State University. His research interests include intercollegiate athletics, revenue generation, and sociological issues in sport.

Michelle Carpenter, Old Dominion University

Michelle Carpenter, MBA, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Marketing at Old Dominion University. Her research interests include social media strategies and trends, and personal branding.

Jay O'Toole, Old Dominion University

Jay O’Toole, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Management at Old Dominion University. His research interests include emergent organizing processes in entrepreneurial and innovative organizations.



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