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

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UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) looks for a way out as Georgetown is triple-teamed during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, in Storrs, Connecticut.  (Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant via AP)

Her financial security undoubtedly made it a little 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 Nika Muhl (Croatia) are also still eligible to play, but neither has announced whether they plan to return or turn professional.

Edwards said Tuesday that her decision will be based on basketball and achieving the goals she has for herself and the Huskies. But she acknowledged that money was also a factor.

“Maybe a little,” she said. “It’s a small influence. But it’s really about the team.”

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

Muhl said she has pretty much made a decision about whether she will return to UConn and is just waiting for the right time to make an announcement.

The senior guard said because she's never had zero money and it wasn't one of the reasons she chose to play at UConn, it won't play a role in her decision to leave or stay.

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

Her coach, Geno Auriemma, said he would like to see Congress enact an exception to student visa rules that would allow international students to at least earn money to buy groceries, regardless of whether they are athletes or not .

But he said he understands the government can't just grant work visas to everyone who wants one.

“If they can find a way for these people to be treated the same as any other student-athlete, then that’s great,” he said.

The issue has caught the attention of Connecticut's two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both of whom support better compensation for college athletes.

Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Oregon Republican Pete Ricketts introduced legislation last October that would create a subcategory within the F-1 visa narrowly tailored to international student-athletes who want to pursue NIL opportunities .

“Their blood, sweat and tears deserve just as much financial reward as those of other student-athletes,” Blumenthal said at the time. “The current visa system puts them at risk of losing their legal status here if they don’t make any money at all. This provision is deeply unfair and demonstrably outdated and needs to be reformed, as our legislation would be.”

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UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) eyes the basket while defended by Georgetown forward Graceann Bennett (33) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, in Storrs, Connecticut.  (Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant via AP)

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UConn guard Nika Muhl (right) fights for the ball against South Carolina guard Bree Hall (left) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/ Nell Redmond)

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

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