Alumni in the Industry: Khalil Wilkes '19
Khalil Wilkes Esq. (VLS ’19) is the Director of Compliance at MOGL, an online platform that empowers student athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) by connecting them to businesses for marketing opportunities. The Villanova Sports Law Society alum is vital in ensuring that all brand deals between businesses and student athletes are compliant with the athlete’s state and university guidelines to protect their eligibility. To maintain the legality of these brand deals, MOGL automatically discloses NIL contracts to student athletes’ respective universities before the deal is executed. Wilkes is not only aiding universities in forging stronger bonds with their communities, but also guiding athletes in the new space of NIL. His work thus far has helped student athletes gain access to verified business opportunities they were not previously able to explore.
Khalil Wilkes hails from a sports centric family as he grew up playing football in New Jersey and earned an athletic scholarship to Stanford University. Upon completing his football career at Stanford, Khalil enjoyed a brief stretch in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. Reflecting on his football career, Wilkes’s long-standing love of sports pushed him to pursue a career in college athletics. Obtaining his law degree complimented his on-field accomplishments within the realm of athletics. Wilkes originally planned to work on the agency side of sports. However, he chose a career in college athletics because it allowed him to pursue a more service-based career path. Khalil’s passion to advocate for student athletes was initially formed through his experience as an extern with Villanova University Athletics’ compliance office. The joy he felt from working in collaboration with Villanova’s student athletes cemented his commitment to provide collegiate athletes with guidance and support as an administrator.
Wilkes’s time with Villanova’s compliance office created an opportunity to intern with the NCAA’s National Office in their Academic and Membership Affairs Department. In this role, Khalil supported Division I institutions with compliance, amateurism, and recruiting matters while also working extensively on cases involving financial aid and benefits. After completing his yearlong internship with the NCAA, Khalil returned to Stanford to service the student athletes of his alma mater. As the Compliance Coordinator, Wilkes oversaw comprehensive academic evaluations regarding eligibility and managed all issues surrounding the conduct and employment of athletics personnel.
After gaining a plethora of experience working in collegiate sports and for universities internally, the job opportunity presented by MOGL directly aligned with Wilkes’s personal mission. The opportunity allowed him to interact with a variety of student athletes throughout the nation, across several different sports. “My passion in my work is to empower student athletes to enjoy their collegiate experience and soak up every opportunity that is made available to them, and I believe I am pursuing that passion at MOGL.” Wilkes felt comfortable joining his childhood friend, MOGL Co-Founder Brandon Wimbush, and trusted the benevolent intentions of MOGL’s pursuit to service all student athletes. As “the voice of reason” for Wimbush throughout his football career, it was a natural progression for Wilkes to join MOGL, as he has been providing insight to Wimbush regarding NCAA bylaws and compliance since his time interning with the NCAA.
According to Wilkes, the next step in the NIL space is “figuring out how the student athlete can best be protected.” Currently state laws govern NIL, but Wilkes foresees there being a reaction from the federal government to provide further guidelines in the NIL space. As a result, Wilkes is “looking forward to more uniformity in NIL” across the collegiate athletic landscape. With more uniformity, team-wide NIL activities and larger deals are on the horizon. Wilkes anticipates student athletes gaining more power if the courts classify student athletes as employees, which would make them eligible to receive a salary and benefits.
When asked what advice he would provide to student athletes regarding securing NIL opportunities, Wilkes says “the university should be considered a friend in this process, and always consult the compliance office.” Wilkes stresses that even though monetizing one’s NIL is important, the main goal for a student athlete should be to remain eligible. As a former student athlete, Wilkes prides himself on being able to relay first-hand experience to current and future student athletes.
Wilkes credits the sports law program at Villanova and the connections he was able to make while enrolled, as a contributing factor to his success in collegiate sports. His advice to Villanova Law students pursuing a career in collegiate sports is to add a presence on social media and “show the world that you are doing great work in the sports world.” Wilkes relays that businesses will continue to allocate money and resources towards NIL. Attorneys who can advocate, educate and communicate with today’s student athletes will become the leaders of collegiate athletics.