International athletes frustrated with NIL rules


Mia Hennen

Freshman Kenny Pohto blocks an opponent from the basket during a free throw against South Alabama on Nov. 15, 2022. Pohto is a native of Stockholm, Sweden.


While student athletes now have the opportunity to participate in name, image and likeness activities — with companies including OpenDorse and FanJolt — some students are left out of those opportunities. 

International student athletes that come to the U.S. are able to come because of an F-1 Student Visa.

The F-1 student Visa allows international student athletes to work on campus but they are not allowed to earn money from another business or an individual off campus. This leaves them out of NIL activities since they cannot receive money or work for a business outside of their college.  

“Basically this is not an NCAA Compliance issue it’s an United States federal immigration issue,” Associate Athletic Director of Compliance Korey Torgerson said. “So the easiest way to explain it is that I’ve been told what others have been telling their student athletes is that in order to do NIL their feet have to be touched down in their home country.”

Student athletes are allowed to talk to fans and businesses to discuss business deals while they are in the states, but they cannot accept any money. Torgerson said universities can help prepare those activities.

“As soon as they fly home and touch down in their home country then they would be able to participate in NIL activities,” Torgerson said.

Sophomore men’s basketball player Kenny Pohto, who is a native of Stockholm, Sweden, said it’s frustrating that he can’t receive money from NIL activities in the states. This season, Pohto is the only international athlete on the men’s team.

“It’s harder to get money back home than it is here,” Pohto said. “So it would really help if I could do it here. So yeah it sucks, but you can’t really do anything about it so just gotta focus on basketball.”

Senior women’s basketball player Jane Asinde is from Kampala, Uganda.

Asinde said she is frustrated about not having the opportunity to earn NIL money because she doesn’t know when she’ll get to go back to her home country.

“If I go home, how sure am I that I will get them,” Asinde asked. “If I was here and I’m a citizen, I [would] know how [to] sign those endorsement deals,” Asinde said.

The women’s basketball team has eight international athletes on its roster including Asinde.

“If I was the only student athlete here that was international and saw all of my teammates who are getting these endorsement deals I would be frustrated,” Asinde said.

Torgerson said international athletes are at a disadvantage in the NIL landscape because they cannot earn money to support themselves.  Even though international athletes can work on campus, many athletes say they don’t have time for a job with the amount of time it takes to play a sport..

“I think they would like to have the ability to do it just because it could be a disposable income to them,” Torgerson said.