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NCAA Rules and Foreign Athletes

March 27, 2023

At The Regulatory Review, William McDonald L’24 explores the perspective that foreign student-athletes must currently choose between earning money and keeping their immigration status.

In a piece recently published at The Regulatory Review, William McDonald L’24 analyzes the arguments made in “The Abandonment of International College Athletes by NIL Policy by Victoria J. Haneman and David P. Weber of Creighton University School of Law. The paper, which is forthcoming in the North Carolina Law Review, “details the tax and employment prohibition issues facing foreign athletes.”

Haneman and Weber contend that foreign athletes should be afforded the same financial opportunities as U.S. athletes and offer suggestions on how the U.S. Congress or immigration authorities could level the playing field.

From The Regulatory Review:

Some college athletes make more than $1 million a year. This money has poured in following a 2021 NCAA eligibility rule change that now allows student athletes to profit off their names, images, and likenesses. Missing out on this windfall, however, are foreign athletes whose student visas — and accompanying work restrictions — have left them in what ESPN has called a “legal no man’s land.”

William McDonald L'24 William McDonald L'24In a new paper, Victoria J. Haneman and David P. Weber of Creighton University School of Law contend that the U.S. Congress or immigration services should amend existing regulations to allow foreign athletes to receive the same financial opportunities as their domestic-born teammates. Haneman and Weber also propose several strategies for foreign athletes to consider until immigration policy changes are made, but they warn that these interim options could carry risks to an athlete’s current and future visa status.

Haneman and Weber note that foreign student athletes, who make up 12 percent of the roughly 450,000 college athletes across the United States, most commonly receive F-1 student visas. Lawmakers created this visa in 1952, long before they had reason to include an exception for college student-athletes looking to profit off their identities as sports stars.

Haneman and Weber caution that, generally speaking, student athletes holding an F-1 visa are not permitted to work while in the United States. If caught violating this rule, they may be deported and prevented from ever reinstating their student status. Haneman and Weber emphasize that the current federal immigration rules also provide that a student’s employer could be sanctioned. The prohibition, however, has three exceptions… .

Read McDonald’s full piece at The Regulatory Review.