Zoe Berg

Since June 30, 2021, when Connecticut governor Ned Lamont signed into law an act allowing student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, Yale’s student-athletes have explored a number of ways of benefiting from the now-legalized practice.

After Lamont signed the bill into law, Yale Athletics developed and released its own name, image and likeness policy.  Now written as a four page document on the Yale Athletics website, it governs all NIL agreements for Yale student-athletes, including those who compete outside of the NCAA. The document emphasizes that the “NIL landscape for collegiate student-athletes is still developing,” so the policy is subject to change.

For women’s golf captain Ami Gianchandani ’23, the new NIL policy offers opportunities that were inaccessible under previous regulations. Gianchandani is the co-founder and CEO of Accel Golf, a company that specializes in providing golfers with custom analytics to help improve their performance.

“Before I wasn’t really able to tie my name or my image to the business,” Gianchandani said. “But now that I am, I’m able to reach a much bigger customer base and have some credibility… I can attach my name, my school, my sport to the information in my bio, so that’s been a huge help.”

Gianchandani explained that her newfound ability to promote her own business is somewhat of an unconventional NIL deal. For most student-athletes, the process of engaging in an NIL deal starts with contacting established brands or businesses. According to Gianchandani, these endorsement deals take a variety of forms — for example, student-athletes might be compensated for a post on social media or they might agree to wear a brand’s logo.

Bennie Anderson ’24, an offensive lineman on the football team, has engaged in multiple NIL agreements. Anderson stressed the importance of developing a consistent personal brand on social media platforms so companies feel confident when facilitating a partnership. The Missouri native also emphasized the need to partner with trustworthy people and companies. 

“My NIL deal with State Farm is through a person who I knew from back home who I trust,” Anderson said. “I think that’s probably one of the more important things.”

Other members of the Yale football team are also finding ways to benefit from their NIL. In October, Anderson was approached by representatives from Playbooked, an online platform for collegiate athletes to field NIL deals offered by different brands. They proposed a partnership between Anderson and  Crypto.com, a cryptocurrency trading company. When talking with Crypto.com, Anderson noted that other members of the team would be interested in joining the partnership. Soon thereafter, Anderson and more than 20 other members of the football team each agreed to post on Instagram to promote the cryptocurrency app.

Associate Athletic Director Mike Gambardella told the News that student-athletes are “responsible for ensuring their NIL activities do not violate NCAA regulations or applicable state law.” 

Although the onus ultimately falls on student-athletes, Yale Athletics offers the staff in its Compliance Office as a resource for student-athletes. All student-athletes must report any NIL engagements to the Yale Athletics Compliance Office so staff can review the contracts. Yale’s policy notes, however, that Yale Athletics is unable to provide advice on NIL opportunities outside of compliance concerns.

When asked about the rollout of the new NIL policy, Gianchandani praised the University and emphasized the ever-changing landscape of NIL in collegiate athletics. 

“Everyone’s policies right now — the schools’ specifically — are pretty general because they’re still leaving room to figure out what works for student athletes and how the rules are being interpreted,” Gianchandani said. “So I think Yale’s policy did a good job of outlining the basics, and definitely gives a good summary of information for student-athletes to go off of.”

Anderson echoed Gianchandani, explaining that the information athletes need is “readily accessible.” 

The Yale Athletics Compliance Office is led by Jason Strong.