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From Student to Athlete to Influencer

By: Alexis Johns | October 14, 2021

UAlbany has paved the way for its athletes to start monetizing their names, images, and likeness (NIL) under a new NCAA policy allowing student-athletes to be paid for marketing relationships they forge off the field.

On July 1, 2021, the NCAA allowed for collegiate athletes to monetize their fame in the form of NIL. Many college athletes are already influencers, and, now thanks to this ruling, they can be paid like influencers too.

At the beginning of the school year, the Department of Athletics at the University at Albany announced its new “Unleashed” program that began at the start of the 2021 school year. The Assistant Athletic Director of External Relations, Griffith Hunter, stated, “On August 13, 2021, we released our UAlbany “Unleashed” Program, which is an initiative that we began with our partnership with INFLCR and will continue over time with various education for our student-athletes surrounding their personal brands.” “Unleashed” allows student athletes to pursue opportunities surrounding NIL.

The first phase of “Unleashed” is a new partnership UAlbany Athletics has with a software platform called INFLCR (pronounced “influencer”). It allows athletes to share videos and photos straight from their mobile devices. Coaches, brand ambassadors, and those who look for athletes to advertise their merchandise in a positive light, have access to the software and can monitor what athletes are posting. This software will give exposure to many athletes who are looking to monetize off of their sport. Mr. Hunter said that because the policy is too new he could not disclose how many UAlbany athletes use this platform.

The University at Albany Athletics created a NIL committee in the summer of 2021. It was composed of individuals both within and outside the Division of Athletics. This committee was tasked with evaluating the vast scope, which encompasses student athletes’ abilities to monetize their rights publicly.

The University at Albany encourages all athletes to take advantage of this new opportunity. Griffith Hunter commented on this matter: “I can confirm that we have had some student-athletes who have taken advantage of the new NIL rules.” UAlbany Athletes have taken deals and merchandise from companies like Barstool Sports and Liquid I.V.

The NCAA is working with Congress to adopt federal legislation to allow student-athletes the use of NIL. Short-term action has been taken, and the NCAA has compromised rules to follow until either federal legislation or new NCAA rules are acquired. These rules can be found on the NCAA website under “Interim NIL Policy.” These rules, in broad, include how institutions should proceed in terms of handling finances and marketing.

The University at Albany released their own NIL policy on July 1, 2021, as the state of New York has yet to do so. The policy, called “University at Albany Division of Athletes Name, Image and Likeness Interim Policy,” is a guide for student-athletes and the parameters they can operate within NIL.

Meanwhile, the University at Albany has its guidelines and parameters for athletes operating within NIL. The rules object to any athletes entering NIL agreements that include any form of gambling, sports wagering, or vendors associated with athletic performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs); and naturally including usage of cannabis, tobacco, illegal drugs, and alcohol.

Also, any NIL compensation may not conflict with current team and academic-related activities. Student-athletes must also disclose any NIL agreements they make to the Division of Athletics within four days through the INFLCR.

The NCAA continues to work on this new rule and communicate with schools barring any changes. The University at Albany Athletic Department is constantly monitoring this matter and always ready to improve the policy when needed.


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