Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Maryland has enacted a law allowing student-athletes to earn compensation from name, image, and likeness (NIL) endorsement deals. The law, Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 15-131, went into effect on July 1, 2023, and is part of a continuing trend of states implementing legislation allowing student-athletes to monetize endorsements.
The most notable aspect of the law is that it prohibits Maryland’s public colleges and universities from implementing any rules that would prohibit a student-athlete from earning compensation through NIL deals. For example, scholarships cannot be reduced or taken away because of a student-athlete’s NIL compensation. Additionally, a college or university cannot enforce rules that would prohibit a student-athlete from earning compensation through NIL deals when not participating in team activities. The law does, however, require student-athletes to disclose any NIL deal to an official designated by the student-athlete’s college or university.
The law also prohibits athletic conferences from preventing student-athletes from earning compensation through NIL deals. And it prohibits athletic conferences from barring Maryland colleges or universities from athletic competitions because they allow athletes to earn compensation from NIL deals.
While Maryland’s NIL law provides a number of protections for student-athletes entering NIL deals, it also prohibits colleges and universities from paying student-athletes directly or entering agreements to pay student-athletes (or prospective student-athletes) for NIL-based endorsements. Colleges and universities can, however, prohibit student-athletes from engaging in advertisements during team activities.
Overall, the Maryland NIL law allows student-athletes to earn compensation for activities like signing autographs or endorsing products. Student-athletes, schools, and businesses looking to enter NIL deals should become familiar with Maryland’s NIL law – but should also keep an eye on congressional proposals like the College Sports Clearinghouse Act of 2023; the Fairness, Accountability, and Integrity in Representation of College Sports Act; and the Student-Athlete Level Playing Field Act as federal-level NIL debates continue. Proposals for federal NIL legislation would have broad implications if passed.
Those with questions should consult with counsel, especially given the rapid developments in NIL legislation.