After winning three Olympic medals, gymnast Sunisa Lee will head to Auburn University this fall as one of the first athletes eligible to receive endorsement deals without sacrificing their amateur status. She might receive a substantial amount of money – if she’s smart about it.
Assuming she has any potential contracts negotiated or reviewed by an attorney, Ms. Lee might be even more of an inspiration than she is already. Other players may follow suit and attempt to get an endorsement deal, even if it’s not national.
However, most athletes don’t know where to begin. They may receive offers, but how will they know if the deal is in their interest? Most young athletes have no business law training and might find it a challenge to read the fine print in an endorsement contract.
Moreover, times are changing. Now, an influential athlete could potentially become a social media influencer. That takes time and effort, which would come on top of the time and effort needed to get an education and play a college sport.
One financial advisor told the New York Times that he had reviewed three endorsement deals for a family friend. In each case, he felt obliged to make aggressive changes. There was basic contract language that needed to be revised, but there was also a need to reconsider the athlete’s payment terms and obligations.
“it’s an exciting, attractive area, but the potential client base is ripe for being taken advantage of,” he added.
Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of
If you’re a student athlete, it’s an exciting time to be in school. Your image and likeness are now yours to profit from, if you can get a good deal. But getting a good deal could take not only effort and persistence but also knowledge and skill. Be sure to hire a legitimate, unbiased advisor.
Leigh Law Group represents student athletes in a wide variety of issues, including interscholastic and collegiate rules, suspension and expulsion, loss of scholarships and denied accommodations.