Weird work rules: Why Rutgers’ basketball star Omoruyi can only be NIL star overseas

Center signs 11-day NIL deal with DEVCO that is limited to his time during August trip to Africa, Europe

Rutgers men’s basketball start Cliff Omoruyi has signed an NIL agreement to support the work of the New Brunswick Development Corporation while Rutgers goes on an 11-day international trip to Africa and Europe in August.

But only while the team is overseas – due to a law that seemingly makes little sense.

Omoruyi is a native of Nigeria. Because of an unintended consequence of the Patriot Act – signed long before the NCAA’s rules on Name, Image and Likeness were ever imagined – students on F-1 visas are not allowed to work in the U.S. while they are here.

So, Omoruyi is free to work while the team is overseas, but the arrangement ends upon his return.

Rutgers will split time on its trip in Senegal and Portugal – arriving on Aug. 8 and returning Aug. 19.

DEVCO President Chris Paladino is happy to be associated with Omoruyi – the school’s talented and charismatic personality – for however long he is allowed.

He expects Omoruyi will produce content (blogs, still pictures, videos) throughout the trip, which he and DEVCO will be able to share and promote. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Upon his return, DEVCO still will be allowed to share the content produced overseas – but not able to accept new efforts.

“Cliff Omoruyi is a student athlete that exemplifies everything that’s good about Rutgers,” Paladino said. “We’re proud to be able to work with him while he travels abroad representing our university and my alma mater.”

Bob Zito, the founder and managing partner of international sports management firm IPZ, said he is working to get the work rules related to student-athletes on visas adjusted.

“It makes no sense,” he said.

It also impacts more than 20,000 college athletes across the country. (Zito wrote about the situation here.)

Omoruyi has helped several companies with appearances and social media posts, but never asked for a penny. Instead, Zito has asked companies to give a donation to the “Books & Basketball” program at the Salvation Army’s West Side facility in Newark.

Until it’s changed, these types of workarounds are the only solutions.

DEVCO, a private non-profit urban real estate development company in New Brunswick, has helped develop and oversees dozens of projects in New Brunswick and on the Rutgers campus – including The Yard and the new academic buildings. A resident on the RU campus, Omoruyi said he is well aware of the work DEVCO has done.

“DEVCO has been one of the drivers of the revitalization of New Brunswick,” he said. “As someone who sees their work almost every day, I am thankful to have their support. Mr. Paladino and his team have done an outstanding job on our campus and in our community. I am proud to partner with them.”

Omoruyi has done his best work on the basketball court.

A 6-11 center entering his senior season, the Benin City, Nigeria native was selected to First-Team All-Big Ten Defensive Team and to the Second-Team All-Big Ten, after averaging 13.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.

His 72 blocks on the year were good for 15th in the nation and third in the Big Ten. His 325 rebounds were tied for 17th in the country. He also finished six in the nation in dunks, with 73.

Omoruyi is currently 9th all-time at Rutgers in blocks (128) and has the third best field-goal percentage for a career in school history (56.3%).