Villanova Law Brings Together BIG EAST Panel To Explore Name, Image and Likeness

BIG East panel_for web

In conjunction with the 2024 Men’s BIG EAST Basketball Tournament, Villanova Law hosted the New York City networking luncheon “Who Calls the Shots? NIL and the Future of College Athletics” in March.

A packed house gathered at Martinique New York on Broadway to hear a discussion about the growing impact of name, image and likeness (NIL) in college athletics. NIL has been prominent in the headlines in recent years following a Supreme Court ruling in 2021 that allowed college athletes to begin profiting from name, image and likeness.

Professor Andrew Brandt, executive director of Villanova’s Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law, moderated a discussion between Val Ackerman, commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference, Randy Foye CLAS '06, president of Villanova’s NIL collective Friends of Nova and Jay Wright, special assistant to the president at Villanova University and former Villanova Wildcats men’s basketball head coach. Together, the group brought decades of experience from many sides of college athletics—players, coaches, administrators and fans.

“We have an esteemed panel of speakers today,” said Mark C. Alexander, The Arthur J. Kania Dean of Villanova Law, during his opening remarks. “Name, image and likeness is a hot topic in our world. To hear from some of the people most connected to it is a true privilege.”

Before beginning Q&A, Brandt, who previously served as vice president of the Green Bay Packers, gave a brief overview of the recent legal aspects of NIL, noting that the last three years have featured the “three Ls” – lawyers, litigation, legislation. “It is a popular topic on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

Throughout the discussion, the group spoke about the rapid rise of NIL since the 2021 ruling, how NIL collectives operate, the vision for Friends of Nova and future implications as NIL continues to make its way through the courts. They also touched on the importance of schools like Villanova leading with values while navigating the changing world of NIL and recruiting a new generation of coaches and staff who understand and embrace the changes.

Arun Thottakara '21, a member of the Moorad Center’s Board of Advisors and a senior manager in Excel Sports Management’s talent marketing division specializing in NIL, felt the panel was timely and relevant to those in his field and beyond.

“The rules around college athlete compensation are constantly evolving,” said Thottakara. “As someone who works in the representation of college athletes, understanding the rules and regulations is necessary to best service our clients. This panel included individuals from the conference, coaching, and collective side. It was insightful to hear thoughts on the current landscape from different perspectives.”

Law firm Troutman Pepper was the presenting sponsor for this event. Dewey, Pegno, & Kramarsky LLP and McDermott, Will & Emery were premium sponsors, and Gibson Dunn was a wildcat sponsor.

Note: This story was produced prior to the NCAA’s May 2024 settlement agreement to allow schools to pay players for the first time in the history of college athletics. Please check back for more information about NIL, and follow Professor Andrew Brandt for discussion on the topic. @AndrewBrandt