Trayveon Williams to co-teach a law course on NIL
After a year of college athletes being able to earn compensation based on their fame through what many call name, image and likeness (NIL) agreements, there is a glaring problem. Far too many athletes, sports agents and lawyers have questions about the process, are looking for information on how to review and negotiate contracts, and want help with financial decisions about the currency that they are currently generating or managing.
Spreading education on issues surrounding the NIL is no easy task, and getting anyone to pay attention to what people have to say on the subject can also be a challenge. Sometimes it’s easier to cut through the noise when the information is shared by someone who was in the listener’s shoes or at least in the people’s shoes than the service providers (i.e. attorneys) hope to represent, which is an experiment that is about to take place at Texas A&M.
Trayveon Williams, who is running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, has signed on to serve as an adjunct professor at Texas A&M, teaching a course on NIL athlete advocacy with the sports attorney and business consultant sporting Alex Sinatra by her side. This will be a course that is not only for current and former college athletes, but also for future lawyers and sports agents so that they understand and appreciate the best practices of representing their athlete clients, and that they must remain at away from self-promotion that may put their athlete clients at risk of negative consequences.
“It is vitally important to teach future athlete advocates, agents and attorneys how to best represent their athlete clients,” Sinatra said when discussing the upcoming course. “Diligent advocacy is vital, but too often athletes have no say in how they are represented. By having a former college athlete and a current professional athlete co-teach the class with me, we will begin to build a system where athletes and advocates know better how to interact and support each other. We will train a whole new generation of informed advocates and informed athletes so that the sports industry as a whole is elevated to a more human level. Athletes are humans first.
It’s a great concept. At the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where I am currently an Adjunct Professor of Sports Law, I am able to offer students a course that reviews Athlete Agent Laws, NIL Laws of state (and any amendments thereto), school NIL policies, NCAA Interim NIL Policy and Guidelines, states that allow high school athletes to participate in NIL activities, challenges for international students in NIL matters, proposed federal regulation, and consideration of different types of NIL contracts (including sports agent representation contracts). I may need to incorporate an athlete’s personal perspective into future classes on the subject.
I hope Texas A&M and other schools go one step further and proactively offer their students the opportunity to help current athletes with pro bono contract counseling, especially for athletes who don’t have the resources needed to pay for a lawyer, as I suggested at the NIL summit held in Atlanta mid-June.
Darren Heitner is the founder of Heitner Legal. He is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Lawyer Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association, and is an adjunct professor at the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @DarrenHeitner.