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Could Michigan become 1st state to expressively permit NIL at high school level?

Jeremy Crabtree09/21/22
On3 image
2024 QB CJ Carr (Chad Simmons/On3)

State Sen. Adam Hollier has proposed an amendment to Michigan’s state laws that would make it the first state law to expressly permit NIL at the high school level.

To this point, most states leave it up to governing high school athletic associations to make determinations about NIL eligibility. Currently, state associations in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District Of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota and Utah allow high school student-athletes to participate in NIL without losing eligibility.

But if laws are passed on the state level – either for or against NIL – it would prevail over the state athletic associations. There are some states that do address NIL at the high school level. For example, Texas’ legislation, which is one of the most restrictive in the country, prohibits high school NIL.

If Hollier’s amendment picks up traction, experts say it could signal a significant shift in how states view high school NIL. Hollier’s revisions were introduced on Tuesday and referred to the state’s committee on education and career readiness. Currently, the Michigan High School Athletic Association prohibits NIL.

“If this bill gains traction and gets enacted, I believe it would be the first state law that expressly allows for NIL at the high school level,” said Dan Greene, an associate attorney at Newman & Lickstein in Syracuse, New York, who has been tracking NIL legislation across the country. “Maryland had a bill proposed in February that pushed for NIL rights for its high school athletes. But that bill has stalled.

“Perhaps Michigan will have better luck here if the Michigan High School Athletic Association continues to stand pat with its current rules while states like Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania appear to be pushing for permitting high school NIL in the very near future.”

Movement for high school NIL in Midwest

Greene is correct — momentum for NIL on the high school level has picked up throughout the Midwest.

Yes, the Ohio High School Athletic Association voted no against NIL in May. But there were 14 different proposals. Plus, many administrators in the state believe it’s just a matter of time before it becomes a reality. Earlier this summer, Pennsylvania put a plan in place for high school students to profit from NIL that should take effect in July 2023. Furthermore, the Illinois High School Association’s Board of Directors said in early September the group plans to put out a proposal for a membership vote. Language on the proposal will likely mirror other state associations that have allowed NIL.

Plus, states with rules against NIL are in jeopardy of losing stars to states where it’s not forbidden. One lawyer involved with NIL contracts told On3 he expects an influx of transfers to states like California, New York and Utah where it’s acceptable. We’ve already seen it with girl’s high school basketball star Jada Williams. She transferred from Blue Springs High School in Missouri to La Jolla Country Day in California. Plus, Class of 2024 four-star defensive line recruit T.A. Cunningham was allegedly lured to California because of NIL promises.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see this push for NIL rights for high school athletes to continue throughout the country,” Greene said. “There is a risk of being left behind and losing talent to other states that permit high school NIL like New York and California as we saw with Jada Williams who left Missouri to pursue NIL deals out West.”

What’s also in Michigan NIL amendment?

Along with paving the way for NIL to be allowed on the high school level, the amendment also says anyone who violates this law may be ordered to pay a civil penalty of up to $100,000.

It also indicates by June 30, 2023, any nonprofit trade association that represents high schools – which would seem to mean the Michigan High School Athletic Association – shall send a summary of its preparedness in implementing the law.

The amendment also says, “this act does not require a high school, postsecondary education institution or amateur sports organization to identify, create, facilitate, negotiate or otherwise enable opportunities for an amateur athlete to earn compensation for the amateur athlete’s use of his or her name, image or likeness rights.”

Michigan athletes have high On3 NIL Valuations

While it likely will be too late for players in the Class of 2023 from Michigan to profit off their NIL, the state has always produced a number of top players and future stars could benefit.

For example, five-star quarterback Dante Moore of Detroit Martin Luther King would have been able to execute a number of deals. That’s especially true because he has a massive On3 NIL Valuation of $726,000. He also won a state title in 2021. It probably could have been a similar story with Curtis Williams Jr., a coveted four-star basketball recruit from Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice with an On3 NIL Valuation of $10,200.

If this were to pass, the first real star to profit from the new law could be Class of 2024 On3 Consensus four-star quarterback CJ Carr. Not only is Carr an early Notre Dame commitment and one of the top overall players in the country, but he’s also the grandson of legendary Wolverine coach Lloyd Carr.