Name, Image, Likeness policy

Bluffton University supports student-athletes receiving compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness from sources outside the university. In conjunction with State of Ohio Executive Order 2021-10D and NCAA Policy, Bluffton University and the Department of Athletics have developed specific policies to address name, image and likeness (NIL) activities of student-athletes.

A student-athlete’s failure to comply with this policy may result in penalties imposed by the NCAA and/or Bluffton University that could impact the student-athlete’s eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics.  This policy applies to all student-athletes listed on official rosters from the time they initially enroll as a full-time student or when they begin official practice, whichever comes first.

Any student-athlete who completes the NIL reporting form should send it to Chad Shutler at

Name, Image and Likeness Defined

 A name, image, and likeness activity includes any situation in which a student-athlete’s name, image, likeness, or personal appearance is used for promotional purposes by a non-institutional entity, including the individual student-athlete, a commercial entity, or a non-institutional nonprofit or charitable entity.

  • Name = first name, last name, nickname
  • Image = picture of the student-athlete
  • Likeness = physical, digital, or other depiction or representation of the student-athlete
  • Compensation = any form of payment including but not limited to:  cash, gifts, in-kind items of value, social media compensation, payments for licensing or use of publicity rights, or payments for other intellectual or intangible property rights.

NIL activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Traditional commercials or advertisements for products or services
  • Student-athletes developing and promoting their own business
  • Personal appearances
  • Student-athletes running their own camps and clinics
  • Providing private lessons (and using their NIL to promote those lessons)
  • Sponsored social media posts
  • Autograph sessions

Any compensation paid to the student-athlete for any name, image, or likeness activity must be for work actually performed and at a rate reflecting fair market value.  Failure to comply with this guideline may affect your eligibility.  

You may hire a professional representative (agent) to assist you with your name, image and likeness activities, but may not hire an agent to market your athletic ability or secure professional athletic opportunities. This may affect your athletic eligibility. 


Institutional disclosure requirements:
Student-athletes are required by law to disclose their NIL activities and contracts (written or verbal) to their institution.  

  • All Bluffton University student-athletes must disclose the proposed name, image and likeness activities to the college at least seven (7) days prior to committing to the activities or signing a contract  
  • Any changes to the initial contract after approval must be submitted to the institution.
  • The required form must be submitted to Deputy Athletic Director and the Compliance Coordinator. They will forward it on PR.  
  • The college will review the information and notify the student-athlete if the proposed name, image and likeness activity complies with this policy, state law and NCAA legislation, or potentially violates the policy  

Role of the college:  
Bluffton University is not responsible for arranging, assisting, promoting or contributing to name, image and likeness opportunities for any student-athlete. This includes faculty, staff, trustees, boosters and contracted vendors.

  • Institutional representatives are not permitted to participate in a student-athletes name, image and likeness activities or benefit from the student-athletes activities.  
  • Bluffton University is not permitted to provide prospective student-athletes with compensation in relation to the prospective student-athlete’s name, image and likeness.
  • A student-athlete may not receive compensation directly from the institution for name, image and likeness activities. Ohio law allows the institution to use a student’s name, image and likeness for educational or promotional purposes without providing compensation. 
  • Bluffton University cannot prevent student-athletes from obtaining professional representation in relation to their name, image and likeness activities nor can it prevent a student-athlete from participating in athletics due to the official representation.
    • It is still a NCAA violation for any student-athlete to seek professional representation for professional athletic opportunities    
  • Bluffton University cannot reduce merit aid as a result of student-athletes earning compensation for use of the student-athletes name, image and likeness. Any income may affect the student-athlete’s eligibility for need-based financial aid.

Prohibited Activities

Student-athletes may not receive compensation which is conditioned or contingent on enrolling at, or continuing enrollment at any specific collegiate institution, or on any specific athletic performance or achievement. 

Student-athletes may not enter into agreements for use of their name, image or likeness in any Prohibited Sponsorship Category. In the event that a student-athlete enters into agreement in a Prohibited Sponsorship Category, the student-athlete shall be required to terminate such agreement. 

A “Prohibited Sponsorship Category” is any sponsorship agreement in certain categories, with specific entities or with specific identified individuals that are in conflict with existing university contracts, university policies, or for any other reason determined in good faith by the university. Prohibited Sponsorship Categories include, but are not limited to: 

  • Gambling or sports wagering, and vendors associated with gambling or sports wagering
  • Adult entertainment, and vendors associated with adult entertainment
  • Alcohol, and vendors associated with alcohol products
  • Tobacco, and vendors associated with tobacco products
  • Marijuana, and vendors associated with marijuana products
  • Products or services that are illegal
  • Substances that are on the NCAA Banned Substance List
  • Activities which are, in Bluffton University’s sole judgment, misleading, offensive, or in violation of a statute, law, ordinance, NCAA bylaw or any university contract obligation
  • Activities that adversely affect the university’s reputation
  • Activities that endorse businesses or brands that are engaged in activities inconsistent with the university’s mission
  • Activities that ridicule, exploit or demean persons on the basis of their age, color, creed, physical or mental disability, national origin, citizenship, veteran status, marital status, race, religion, sex or gender
Institutional Restrictions

A Bluffton University student-athlete MAY NOT:

  • Engage in name, image and likeness activities during any official team activities on or off campus. This includes but it not limited to: practices, scrimmages, competition, team meetings, team travel and community service.  
  • Miss required educational obligations (ex:  classes or exams)
  • Use any Bluffton University trademarks, service marks, logos, symbols or other intellectual properties (including apparel, uniforms, equipment, pictures, videos) without prior written permission from the university. In addition, student-athletes may not use Heartland Conference or NCAA logos, trademarks or other intellectual properties without the permission of those organizations
  • Use institutional facilities for any name, image or likeness activities.  
  • Sell or trade any apparel, uniforms, equipment or awards provided to them by the institution, conference or NCAA as part of any name, image and likeness activity.  
  • Be paid for your athletic performance or accomplishments (ex:  cannot be paid for setting a school record).   

Additional Considerations:

  • Student-athletes should be aware that any income from NIL activities may be considered taxable income and should consult with tax professionals on the implications of the NIL income.
  • Any income may also affect the student-athlete’s eligibility for need-based financial aid.
  • International student-athletes should seek guidance on the potential impact of NIL activities and compensation on their student-visas.  
  • Student-athletes are still subject to the following:
    • Academic standards and requirements
    • Team or athletic department rules of conduct and policies
    • Disciplinary rules and standards for all students at Bluffton University.
  • In addition to Ohio name, image and likeness laws, you may be required to follow the laws of the state in which you legally reside. It is the student-athletes responsibility to make sure they are following their state laws if required.