College Sports Stakeholders Launch Campaign for International Athlete NIL Rights

    • More than 20,000 international NCAA athletes are largely left out of an estimated billion-dollar NIL industry.
    • A coalition of advocates led by NOCAP Sports' Casey Floyd have launched a campaign to change restrictive immigration laws.

IUPUI tennis player Alex Jochim could charge $40-50 an hour giving tennis lessons, now that NCAA name, image, and likeness rules finally allow those activities, he told Front Office Sports. 

It would be a major bump from his $13-an-hour on-campus gig — particularly given how few hours he can work as an athlete.

But if Jochim, a London native who attends school on an F-class visa, were to engage in NIL activities, he could also violate his visa status under current laws. Jochim is one of more than 20,000 international NCAA athletes largely left out of an estimated billion-dollar industry.

That’s because most NIL activities fall outside the “highly restrictive” employment laws for F-1 visas, Green and Spiegel attorney Jonathan Grode told FOS.

Now, a coalition of college sports stakeholders are advocating for change. On Wednesday, a group led by Casey Floyd, Chief Compliance Officer of NIL company NOCAP Sports, launched the first formal public international NIL rights campaign.

The movement includes a petition with three recommendations for Congress and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that Grode and others helped create. The petition lists three law groups and 20 coaches’ associations and is accompanied by a short video featuring several international Power 5 athletes. 

Floyd, also the former athletics director of compliance at the University of Michigan, has been working on the campaign for several months. 

“The right to your own name is a fundamental human right,” Floyd told FOS. He got involved because this issue has flown under the radar — and many people who are aware of it don’t know how to help.

In June 2021, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, administered by ICE, said it was “monitoring” NIL legislation. But there’s been no public movement since then.

In a statement to FOS on Wednesday, an ICE spokesperson said the SEVP “continues to assess the issue of F and M international student-athletes receiving compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.” It is working with other agencies to determine “the number of impacted students and whether regulatory guidance is required.”

It might be possible to get international athletes NIL rights by the 2022-23 school year, Grode predicted. But the timeline depends on which avenue the government takes.

“It comes down to, ultimately, a matter of fairness,” Grode said. “Why should foreign students be treated differently?”