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UConn's Aaliyah Edwards signs NIL deal in Canada, but can't talk about it in the US

UConn's Aaliyah Edwards signs NIL deal in Canada, but can't talk about it in the US

Pat Eaton Robb, The Associated Press

15 hours ago

UConn coach Geno Auriemma smiles after getting his 1,200th career win, following the team's NCAA college basketball game against Seton Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, in Hartford, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hale)

Storrs, Connecticut. (AP) – UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards signed a big contract with name, image and likeness this week with adidas Canada, but she was not allowed to speak with reporters in Connecticut about it Tuesday, for fear that promoting the deal would expose Her student visa is at risk.

Under current US law, Edwards, who is from Kingston, Ont., and other international students can only make money in this country through passive-negative trades. She gets something small, for example, if someone buys a T-shirt with her name on it from the campus bookstore.

But unlike her colleague Paige Bickers, who is estimated to be worth more than half a million dollars in the NIL world, Edwards cannot actively participate in endorsements in the United States.

Her financial security no doubt made it easier for Bueckers to decide she would return to UConn for another season rather than enter this year's WNBA draft.

Edwards and fellow international player Nika Mohl (Croatia) still have remaining eligibility, but neither has announced whether they plan to return or turn pro.

Edwards, who is averaging more than 19 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Huskies (24-5, 16-0 Big East), said Tuesday that her decision will depend on basketball and achieving the goals she has set for herself and the team. . But she acknowledged that money is a factor, too.

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“Maybe a little,” she said. “It's a little bit of an impact. But it's really about the team.”

Adidas has not released the terms of Edwards' NIL deal, but a spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the company “respects the NIL rules and that Aaliyah will only participate in Canada during her NIL deal with adidas Canada.”

Muhl said she's pretty much made up her mind about returning to UConn and is just waiting for the right time to make an announcement.

The senior guard said she never had money and that was not part of the reason she chose to play at UConn, and it would not be a factor in her decision to leave or stay.

“The legacy here, the things you learn, is so much more than just the money you can get,” she said. “I feel like this will translate to life later on…what I've learned about perseverance, resilience, hard work, dedication and discipline. And you'll make money later in life once you have this experience here.”

Their coach, Geno Auriemma, said he would like to see Congress create an exception to student visa rules that would allow international students to earn at least grocery money, whether they are athletes or not.

But he said he realizes the government cannot open work visas to anyone who wants them.

“If they can find a way to treat these guys like any other student-athlete, that’s great,” he said.

The issue has received the attention of Connecticut's two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, who have been pushing for better compensation for college athletes.

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Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Pete Ricketts, a Republican from Oregon, introduced legislation last October that would create a subcategory within the F-1 visa narrowly tailored to international student-athletes who want to pursue non-applying opportunities. Blumenthal said Tuesday he did not have a timeline for its passage, but he hopes to attach the legislation to the upcoming appropriations bill and get it approved this year.

“These restrictions are as outdated as they have been applied to deprivation of risk, and are clearly grossly unfair,” he said.


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