What’s in an NIL contract? 6 Things to Watch For

You’re ready to start leveraging your NIL for monetization opportunities. You secure your first deal. You’re excited and about to hit accept, then you remember: I need to read the contract and terms of the deal first.       

Contracts are not always easy to understand. They are written to be legal documents, which means they need to be carefully constructed.

However, there are features of a contract an athlete should always be aware of and closely monitor in each deal.

It is important to understand: Every athlete should carefully review every part of a contract before signing and understand what it is you are agreeing to. Even if you have an agent or advisor supporting your NIL efforts, it is ultimately your responsibility, and you should engage in the process. While this list highlights some things to review closely, each contract must be fully understood in each of its sections before agreeing to any terms.

If you are unsure about a contract or a specific sentence in it, you should not agree to it or sign it until you ask questions about parts you do not understand. You can direct these questions toward advisors, family, friends, and even the party who provided the contract.

With that, on to the features to watch:

Parties to the Contract

This is the “who.” You need to be able to point to each person (or company) listed in the contract as a party to the agreement. The parties to the contract, including you, are held responsible in all aspects of the deal. If there are issues in the deal or activity, you – or reverse, the partner – will reach out to the other parties to the contract, and in certain situations may have legal remedies that require attorneys and courts. That is why it is important for you to know who is involved before agreeing to anything.


You need to know how you are getting paid. Is it cash after an appearance? Will a check be mailed 30 days after proof of activity is submitted? Do you need to provide a direct deposit form?

This process may seem straightforward, but you should understand the process of getting paid in each contract you receive and potentially agree to. That way there is no headache or missed expectations on their side. A delay caused by not knowing the process and timeline means a delay in getting paid when the activity is completed.

Deliverables/Deal Activity

This is where you find what is expected of you to complete the deal. Is it social media posts? How many posts? Which platforms?

Maybe it’s not social media. Is it an appearance? Does the appearance have time expectations to be there?

Make sure the expectations are clear, are something you can provide/do and that there is a timeline for completion and payment. This will help you plan your schedule and understand what you need to do and when you will get paid for doing it.

Each NIL deal may have multiple types of activities. And some may have different dates to complete. Therefore, you must understand each activity you are contractually obligated to perform because that is the only way you can properly be paid.

Fulfillment Date

This is your deadline to get all deal elements completed and submitted as proof of it being done. If the deadline is missed, payment could be withheld as a breach of contract (i.e., you did not do your job).

Before accepting a deal, get organized. Add any necessary dates to your schedule to make sure you can fulfill the expectations of the contract. Work ahead and do not wait until the last minute. Set deadlines before the fulfillment date deadline so they know it is completed early.

If you know you will not be able to complete it by the date listed – due to practice, games, personal appointments, etc. – go back and ask for a change to the fulfillment that fits your schedule and still works with the brand or fan’s expectations. Everyone gets it. Things come up, schedules fill out. Be clear on this before a deadline is missed.

Deal Term

For social media posts, the contract will spell out how long the post must remain live (e.g., 30 days). You must leave it up at least as long as the contract states, but it is always recommended to leave the post up well beyond the specific date. It is good for you to remain good partners, showing you value the opportunity with the specific brand and post. Past endorsement posts also act like a resume for future opportunities.

It also extends beyond social media. If you are licensing your NIL to a brand or company, how long does that agreement last? Does the brand have the opportunity to use your NIL for six months? A year? In perpetuity (a.k.a. forever)? You want to think long term but make sure there is a reasonable limit. In perpetuity is generally never reasonable, but in some situations, six months or even a full year might be okay.

The term of a deal is something you should clearly know without having to look up. That means understand it and commit to memory before agreeing to any length of time. There are always risks and rewards to the short- or long-term nature of the term. In the end, it is up to you to determine what is in your best interests.

Incomplete Deal Activity

A “buyer” in a contract could have the ability to review your deliverable and deal activity before releasing payment. If the brand determines the deal activity did not meet the terms of the agreement, they have the right to withhold payment until it meets their satisfaction.

You need to know if this clause exists in the contract. Submit multiple options, when applicable, so you can get to the point of meeting expectations. This also shows the brand that you are trying to be a good partner, which delivers long-term value back to you.

The information provided herein does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general, educational and informational purposes only. If you have questions about a contract or engaging in a deal with a brand, you should seek out trusted legal guidance or an advisor to help you through the steps. This information should be used simply as a guide on what to expect in a contract.