On June 30, 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) suspended a 115-year prohibition on college athletes’ ability to profit from the use of their names, images, and likenesses (“NIL”). Historically, NCAA eligibility was determined by an athlete’s amateur status. Student athletes forewent compensation to preserve a line between professional and college sports. Today, the NCAA’s novel NIL policy recognizes an athlete’s right to publicity and allows them to share in the billions of dollars it generates every year. According to estimates, college athletes earned $917 million in the first year of NIL activity. By 2023, the NIL market is projected to reach $1.14 billion. Despite the abundance of NIL options in the United States, not all athletes benefit. Currently, male athletes receive approximately 74.35% of all NIL compensation. Football and men’s basketball, in particular, receive nearly 71.4% of all NIL deals and 93% of NIL donations. Growth in economic disparity between male and female athletes raises a novel legal question: what role will Title IX, a federal civil rights law enacted to ensure gender equality, play in the NIL era of college sports? This Note analyzes whether Title IX regulations will influence colleges’ and universities’ marketing, promotion, and facilitation of NIL opportunities. In the absence of Title IX’s guarantees of equal access to NIL deals or profits, this Note proposes what could be done to ensure that all public-school students are empowered and uplifted in their pursuit of equitable educational and athletic opportunities.



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