Some top UConn talent can’t sign NIL deals: ‘Really unfair’

College athletes across the country have been able to make millions of dollars off of sponsorships over the last year or so thanks to the legalization of name, image and likeness deals in July 2021. But the same cannot be said for international athletes playing in the United States.

Sanogo, who grew up in Mali, moved to the United States at 15 years old. He attends UConn on a student visa, making him, like plenty of other student-athletes born outside of the U.S., ineligible for NIL activities. Being eligible for an NIL deal would require a separate visa that would allow Sanogo to earn outside income, or a change in federal law.

“I think it’s really unfair it’s not allowed,” sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins said during the team’s press conference in Albany. “He’s one of the best big men in the nation, if not at least the top three, so I think it’s really unfair. He’s making the best of it. He’s giving back to his home. So I think that’s great.”

Hawkins wasn’t the only one to sound off on the topic Saturday. UConn Athletic Director David Benedict tweeted that “we need to get the law changed or provide them the opportunity to get the same type of visa a professional athlete receives.”

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