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New state law clarifies rules around NIL deals for student-athletes

A football player wearing an orange and white helmet and uniforms runs while carrying a football.
Syracuse University football team player Sean Tucker runs with the ball during a game.

A new state law helps Division I colleges like Syracuse University better understand rules around the financial deals that student-athletes can now make.

College athletes have been able to earn money off their name, image, and likeness — or NIL — since July 2021, but many details were never clarified. Now, new legislation that went into effect Sunday is eliminating the confusion around the responsibilities of universities.

The law's most significant provision prohibits any school, conference or other organization with oversight on collegiate athletics from punishing a player for making money off their name, image or likeness.

Additionally, the legislation requires schools to set up programs to help student-athletes thrive in their sport, the classroom and life after college. These programs could include mental health resources, a financial distress fund for student-athletes, leadership training, and degree completion assistance.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law in late November, saying she was proud to enact legislation that gives student-athletes the recognition they deserve.

"Our collegiate student athletes are heroes on the field - and they deserve to be treated like heroes even after the final whistle," Hochul said in a news release. "For too long, collegiate student athletes have not been able to benefit from the extraordinary benefits their hard work has provided to their schools."

The law only applies to Division I schools.