By Jeff White (

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — In Richmond, Gov. Glenn Youngkin ceremonially signed a bill Thursday morning that will significantly change the way colleges and universities in this state can operate with regard to name, image and likeness (NIL).

Among those in attendance at the Patrick Henry Building was a delegation from UVA, including director of athletics Carla Williams, head football coach Tony Elliott and head volleyball coach Shannon Wells.

Sponsored by Del. Terry Austin, the bill, which goes into effect July 1, will allow UVA and its peer institutions to be considerably more involved in helping their student-athletes navigate NIL opportunities.

Moreover, a university will be allowed to directly compensate student-athletes for the use of their NIL if its governing body—in UVA’s case, the Board of Visitors—approves policies and procedures that govern NIL.

Williams said UVA Athletics will continue to work closely with and assist with fundraising for its official collective, Cav Futures.

“The law provides much-needed and practical flexibility,” Williams said, “but we haven’t made any [final] decisions about which provisions within the law we’ll actually activate. We’ll continue to support Cav Futures, we’ll continue to discuss our options internally, we’ll monitor the environment, we’ll talk with our coaches, our student-athletes, and we’ll make a decision that’s best for UVA.”


The bill also stipulates that student fees are not allowed to be used to pay student-athletes for their NIL.

In supporting the bill, Williams said, UVA’s primary focus “was making sure we level the playing field so our student-athletes could fully maximize NIL opportunities.”

Other states have allowed their universities more freedom in the NIL realm, and that put schools in Virginia at a potential disadvantage. “Having different state laws and different applications of NCAA rules across the country creates competitive inequities,” Williams said, “which is obviously untenable.”

To those who suggest that the Commonwealth of Virginia is making a complicated situation worse, she added, “I would say that if this state law gets us closer to a federal solution or a national solution, then it’ll be worthwhile. That’s best for our industry.”

Williams, who played basketball at the University of Georgia, said the issue “is both personal and professional for me. As a first-generation college student, I would not have attended college without an athletics scholarship, without the NCAA. When it comes to educating young people for life and developing the world’s best Olympians, there is no system on the planet better than the NCAA. However, the current situation is chaotic and not sustainable. Regardless of the chaos, we have an obligation to ensure we maintain an elite athletics program at UVA.”

(L to R) Shannon Wells, Carla Williams, Tony Elliott and Jason Baum

UVA played a leading role in the development of the new legislation. Jason Baum, Virginia’s deputy athletics director for legal and regulatory affairs, helped draft the bill.

The process started, Williams said, because there “was concern among state legislators that colleges and universities in Virginia were being disadvantaged by an inconsistent and uncertain system.”

State legislators approached UVA about updating the state’s existing NIL law, Williams said. “After consulting with the University and the University’s government relations staff, and also consulting with our colleagues at other universities in Virginia, UVA agreed to serve as the primary contact for expertise and technical support for the development of the amendment.”

In 2021, the NCAA began allowing student-athletes to be compensated through NIL opportunities. However, not long after, the NCAA started imposing additional restrictions on NIL.

Since then, Baum said, UVA has been examining “the landscape of college athletics and NIL. And so we’ve been looking at all 50 states with regard to what’s out there [concerning NIL], and we’ve been monitoring the industry. We’ve been monitoring the state legislatures.”

Legislatures in such states as Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Texas have been amending “their state laws,” Baum said, “and so we’ve been very mindful of everything that’s been going on, and we’ve been thinking about what could also be beneficial for this state law. So we incorporated some of those aspects.”

Elliott said the bill “gives us an opportunity to have a conversation [with student-athletes] without feeling like you’re breaking a rule or crossing a line that you’re not supposed to cross, and it allows us to be able to speak openly. I think one of the things that we’ve got to understand is that this is all new to the student-athletes, and this brings more challenges that we need to be able to speak to. They need financial literacy, education, contract reviews that they need help and support [with]. So it just allows us to be able to speak openly and freely and educate, and I think that’s our role as coaches in the industry that we’re in: to educate on all different fronts.”

Williams thanked Youngkin and Austin “and other state legislators for ensuring student-athletes in Virginia have every opportunity to take full advantage of NIL. Ultimately, and most importantly, we have an opportunity to fully support our student-athletes and coaches in NIL activities.”

As Baum worked with Austin and others to draft the bill, UVA sought input from some of the other colleges and universities in the state, Williams said. “So it was a collective effort, and it’s not one size fits all. But we wanted to make sure we were representative of the other schools that were involved in the process.”

She stressed that many decisions regarding NIL at UVA are yet to be made. “We’ve got a lot of work to do internally,” Williams said. “We want to make sure we do what’s right for UVA. The law gives us the flexibility to compensate student-athletes for their NIL, and we may or may not do that. We haven’t made any final decisions.”

Williams remains hopeful that Congress will establish uniform NIL regulations that every state would have to follow, “but we are also aware we have been hoping for that for [several] years now,” she said. “Nonetheless, we will continue to hope that happens.”

She considers herself a product of the NCAA’s benefits, “so it’s really important that we as an industry get this right,” Williams said, “because of the value it brings to our country. And so my hope is that we can play a role in getting us closer to a solution that modernizes it and preserves it at the same time.”

To receive Jeff White’s articles by email, click the appropriate box in this link to subscribe.