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Name, Image and Likeness (NIL)

A trusted resource to the NIL ecosystem at large, our team unites higher education, collective, coach and athlete representation, and brand experience to bring forward innovative and compliant business and legal solutions

Varnum’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) practice draws upon our experience representing higher education institutions, collectives, brands, coaches and athletes. Our team includes subject matter experts who are navigating clients on a daily basis through complex and novel issues in the burgeoning NIL landscape.

Our approach begins with a foundational knowledge and adherence to NCAA guidelines as well as the state and institutional policies governing NIL matters. We help clients navigate the complicated patchwork of rules in the current landscape and continuously monitor activity at the federal, state and institutional levels for up-to-the-minute developments. While financial reward is often the primary incentive in an NIL arrangement, we provide thorough and forward-looking counsel to help ensure that other assets – such as a school’s standing or an athlete’s eligibility – are protected into the future.

Our team’s experience includes:

  • Forming and structuring collectives, including a collective for a Big Ten university’s football and basketball programs.
  • Group licensing deals, including with respect to trading cards.
  • Securing, protecting and defending NIL and other indicia of persona assets for athletes, including on behalf of a Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP Winner.
  • Creation and maintenance of trademark and copyright protection for athletes and coaches.
  • Negotiating marketing, licensing and endorsement agreements on behalf of brands, coaches and athletes, including with respect to apparel and media rights.
  • Advising higher education institutions on NCAA compliance to ensure athlete integrity and eligibility.
  • Representing coaches and athletes in their estate planning and asset protection needs.

Working with a Varnum attorney, you can be assured of a high level of service, skill, thoroughness and preparation, with the additional advantage of protected attorney-client confidentiality.

The Varnum NIL Team is experienced at forming and structuring collectives, including on behalf of a Big Ten university's football and basketball programs.

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