Loopholes in Licensing Agreements Discriminate Against Female College Athletes

Beginning in 2020, many state legislatures began to pass laws that declared that college athletes had the right to sell or license their names, images and likenesses (NILs), and that their eligibility for athletics could not be taken away due to their exercise of those rights.

The monetization of athlete NILs through legitimately independent third parties is not problematic—but once there is university cooperation and involvement, Title IX requires equal treatment of women. There is ample evidence of close and growing university involvement with the collectives, and various estimates put the share of NIL money going to male athletes ranges to be between 80 and 95 percent.

Female Athletes Sue University of Oregon for ‘Hurtful, Outrageous Sex Discrimination’

Thirty-two current and former female student athletes at the University of Oregon filed a Title IX class-action lawsuit, alleging sex discrimination in athletic participation opportunities, financial aid, benefits and publicity.

“Title IX has been the law for more than 50 years. Oregon needs to comply with it, now,” said Arthur Bryant of the law firm Bailey & Glasser, which represents the plaintiffs. “The history of Title IX has shown: If women want equality, they need to fight for it. So that’s what the women at Oregon are doing.”

Student-Athletes Can Now Sue Discriminatory Universities for Money Damages, a Victory for Title IX

U.S. District Court Judge Todd W. Robinson ruled that the female student-athletes suing San Diego State University (SDSU) for violating Title IX can pursue claims for equal athletic financial aid, equal treatment and retaliation. The decision is the first in the nation to hold that female student-athletes can sue their schools for damages.

“SDSU has been cheating its female student-athletes out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in equal athletic financial aid each year… And it blatantly retaliated against its female student-athletes for standing up for their rights. Now, it can be held accountable.”

The Latest Title IX Battleground: Publicity Rights in College Sports

Most institutions today are failing to support female athletes equally to males in publicity, promotion, recruiting and athletic financial aid. These failures are now significantly compounded by a new form of inequality: payments to student athletes for use of their names, images and likenesses, known as NILs.

In a recent letter sent to the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education, The Drake Group requested that the agency issue guidance warning institutions, their conferences and national governance organizations of their obligations under Title IX and how they apply to these new NIL-related activities, and that actions by “collectives” may be attributed to the universities.