Storrs — UConn forward Dorka Juhasz, like many of her teammates, was excited when she heard that college athletes would be allowed to make money through celebrity endorsements and other means.
The problem? Juhasz, who is from Hungary, is among the more than 12% of college athletes in the U.S. — including more than 3,000 Division I athletes — the vast majority of whom are at school on F-1 student visas, according to the NCAA.
Those visas prohibit students from working off campus except in rare authorized exceptions, such as participating in an internship or work in their field of study, said Leigh Cole of Dinse P.C, an immigration lawyer who works with education clients and employers. On-campus work is limited to 20 hours a week or full-time during the summer and breaks, she said.
“If the school finds out that one of their international student athletes has been doing side jobs, making money off their name, image or likeness, the school is legally obligated to terminate their visa,” she said. “It has drastic consequences.”
Juhasz and other international students say they have been told not to accept any NIL deals because of that possibility.
“Back in Europe, everybody is getting paid for playing basketball, and obviously over here it’s not the same thing,” she said earlier this month. “It was kind of disappointing, because we thought (NIL) was going to be equal opportunity, kind of. We thought there would be a chance for us to show ourselves, show our brand and build our brand.”
Juhasz, a senior transfer from Ohio State, is among three Huskies on F-1 visas, along with Nika Muhl, who is from Croatia and Canadian Aaliyah Edwards. Their coach, Geno Auriemma, points out they are among a majority of his players who are not getting NIL deals.
“But, the international kids don’t even have an opportunity to see whether anybody wants to do anything with them or not,” he said. “So, should they be treated like everybody else? Of course they should.”
The U.S. policy for enforcing student visa rules was formalized after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago in an attempt to make sure that foreign nationals are actually in the country for the reason it states on their visas, legal experts said.
“We can’t really cross the line with having a work visa and not being able to study or just having a study visa and not being able to work,” Juhasz said. “So, it’s hard.”
U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said he believes Congress should carve out an exception to the work rules for student …….