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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A Rare Pro-Athlete Rule

  • Could UConn phenom Paige Bueckers' injury affect her NIL deals?
  • According to an NCAA rule, the answer should be no.
Photo: David Butler II-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

Two of the top NIL earners in women’s college hoops — UConn’s Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd — are now out due to injuries.

Fudd’s foot injury only has her slated to miss a couple of weeks. But Bueckers suffered a tibial plateau fracture in her left knee that will bench her for at least six to eight weeks.

Experts told The Hartford Courant they don’t expect Bueckers’ injury to endanger her career — and therefore her future WNBA salary potential. But could it affect her NIL deals?

According to an NCAA rule, the answer should be no.

  • The rule prohibits “compensation for athletic participation or achievement.”
  • It continues: “athletic performance may enhance a student-athlete’s NIL value, but athletic performance may not be the ‘consideration’ for NIL compensation.”
  • Therefore, it would be against NCAA rules for a company to put a stipulation in an athlete’s contract that would lower or dissolve the deal if a player gets hurt.

“Paige is part of our Gatorade Family — we’re here to support her recovery in any way we can and look forward to her return on the court,” Gatorade, one of Bueckers’ sponsors, said in a statement to FOS. 

StockX, Bueckers’ other partner, told FOS in part: “Our commitment to Paige extends well beyond the court. Our partnerships are based on the alignment of our values and visions, not on an athlete’s ability to play. We wish her a speedy recovery.”

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