Webinar: NIL Expert Kristi Dosh on the Latest Legal Cases in NIL [VIDEO]

April 24, 2024

Basepath hosted a webinar on the latest legal cases in NIL with Attorney, Business of College Sports Founder, Forbes Sports Money Reporter and Former ESPN Writer Kristi Dosh. With both Athlete Con and NACDA on the horizon, the events were a topic of discussion as well.

Athlete Con- 3:55

During Athlete Con this summer, led by Sam Green, the focus will be on hands-on content creation rather than panels. Kristi will instruct attendees on contracts, specifically the identification of red flags. 

Contracts & What to Look out for- 5:50

Kristi advises athletes to thoroughly understand what they’re signing away, ensure they are valued, and demand specificity in deliverables. Athletes are encouraged to negotiate, as they hold power in the process, and to seek legal advice from attorneys not affiliated with athletics, who may offer their services for free or at reduced rates. Kristi has resources about attorneys that athletes could work with on the Business of College Sports website. In discussing best practices for contracts at 6:50, the importance of evolution and compromise is underscored. While both sides may not obtain all they desire, the goal is to find a middle ground. Clauses related to collective agreements when an athlete transfers are highlighted, including provisions for reimbursing collectives if contracts are terminated prematurely. Kristi proposed the idea of including a right of first refusal in contracts as a means of athlete retention. This provision would allow the collective to match any offer presented by another collective if an athlete is considering transferring. Legal counsel from attorneys is strongly recommended throughout the contract negotiation process.

Institutional Involvement in NIL- 11:50

Due to several court cases regarding NIL, the NCAA permits institutional involvement in NIL matters. Additionally, state laws are adjusting to fit NIL needs. BYU, for instance, has been actively engaged since the outset due to a lack of state-level restrictions in Utah. Virginia recently passed a state law allowing institutional involvement in NIL. The advantages of institutional involvement include the ability to facilitate agreements and allocate resources efficiently. However, universities face challenges in this arena, requiring additional staffing, dedicated NIL departments, and increased manpower to manage deals effectively. Staffing and budgetary constraints are the main concern, along with liability concerns related to school endorsements. Moreover, considerations must be made regarding the influx of external opinions, such as parents, agents, and coaches, into these NIL departments. To address these challenges, Kristi’s suggestion is to take proactive measures by establishing a robust framework early on. One proposed solution is adopting an agency model, wherein the collective operates as an agency under the university’s umbrella. This model involves collaboration between school fundraisers and the agency to promote athletes and facilitate payments.

Collectives in House- 17:00

Kristi discussed the trend of integrating collectives within university structures. Despite the well-established fundraising mechanisms at most schools, there is a reluctance to venture into event management, even for planned collective appearances with athletes. Athletics departments lack the resources to oversee all of these activities constantly, as their focus is primarily on sports-related operations. However, beyond staffing for appearances, the challenge lies in securing deals and brokering arrangements effectively. The conversation further explores the implications of traditional fundraising on NIL initiatives and strategies to differentiate between the two. Additionally, Kristi recommends finding new approaches to NIL fundraising, including rewarding donors with priority points based on their contributions to NIL initiatives.

Title IX- 20:15

When considering Title IX implications within an in-house collective framework, there arises a question of its impact and the potential for increased flexibility. The prevailing opinion among attorneys Kristi has contacted suggests that if a portion of the collective remains outside of the institution, allowing the collective itself to determine fund allocation, it could insulate the arrangement from Title IX scrutiny. This approach aims to ensure that decisions regarding the distribution of funds are made externally, thereby mitigating concerns about gender equity. With cases such as Schroeder et al. v. University of Oregon taking place, Kristi emphasizes the importance of dispersing funds and making decisions externally to avoid potential Title IX conflicts. She suggests that demonstrating equitable efforts in both men’s and women’s sports programs could serve as a defense against Title IX challenges. Moreover, if athletes were to be classified as employees, Title VII issues might also come into play.

Campus and Promotional Models- 24:10 

In Virginia state law, where the school is allowed to directly pay athletes, concerns arise regarding Title IX implications. Charlie Baker, in a previous statement, advocated for a dollar-for-dollar split to address potential Title IX risks. Kristi supports this notion, suggesting that direct payments should indeed adhere to a dollar-for-dollar model to reduce Title IX concerns. Additionally, she proposes a promotional model where athletes function as university ambassadors, akin to schools working with influencers on campus. The concept of schools working with influencers has been prevalent on campuses for a considerable period. By studying how influencers manage Title IX compliance, athletic departments can emulate successful strategies. It’s worth noting that athletes have the potential to influence application rates and already have a significant impact on university engagement. Given that athletics often serve as the “front porch” to a school, they play a crucial role in driving overall campus engagement.

NACDA- 31:30

Kristi also discussed the upcoming NACDA convention, where she will be in attendance. During NACDA, there will be four hours dedicated to NIL programming on Sunday, followed by three hours each on Monday and Tuesday. These sessions will include roundtable discussions with experts, including a Title IX attorney, ensuring comprehensive coverage of relevant topics. Additionally, there will be a session featuring an interview with the Cavinder twins on the main stage.

Upcoming Webinars

All Basepath webinars are on Thursdays at 1 pm ET.

  • April 25 – “Growing your Collective’s Memberships” with membership consultant Carlie Tarbell for Basepath powered collectives like The Grove (Ole Miss) and 502 Circle (Louisville).
  • May 2 – “Empowering your Athletes in the NIL Age” with Athletes.org CEO and Former NFL Player Brandon Copeland.
  • May 8- “Webinar: The Biggest Issues in College Athletics” with NIL Expert Morgan Belvedere