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Minnesota joins growing list of states allowing NIL for high school athletes

Jeremy Crabtree06/08/22
minnesota-joins-growing-list-of-states-allowing-nil-for-high-school-athletes-jaxon-howard
Four-star TE Jackson Howard could benefit from Minnesota’s new policy that allows high school athletes to profit from NIL. (Photo by Josh Holmberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Minnesota high school student-athletes will soon be able to profit off their NIL, similar to how college athletes are able to, after an announcement from the Minnesota State High School League.

“The board approves a Name, Image, and Likeness policy for students participating in MSHSL sports and activities,” the low-key announcement said. “The policy protects students’ amateur status.”

The MSHSL board approved the new policy almost a year after the NCAA adopted its interim policy, states across the country started creating their own laws and state high school athletic associations forged their own NIL eligibility standards.

Minnesota joins a handful of other state high school athletic associations — AlaskaCaliforniaColorado, Connecticut, KansasLouisiana, NebraskaNew JerseyNew York and Utah —  that allow their student-athletes to participate in NIL without jeopardizing their high school eligibility. However, most high school associations — including major states like Texas, Florida and Georgia — have prohibited student-athletes from participating in NIL. 

Minnesota joins hodge-podge NIL policies across country

Further complicating the impact NIL has on high school student-athletes is a patchwork of state laws and a lack of understanding of what exactly is in the NCAA’s interim policy.

For example, Minnesota’s NIL bill — House Bill 3329 — was introduced more than a year ago and has been referred to the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee for additional debate. It’s proposed effective date is Jan. 1, 2023.

Recently, the Louisiana State Senate approved a bill allowing schools, their affiliates and boosters to compensate student-athletes for use of their NIL. The revision also allows coaches and school personnel in Louisiana to also facilitate deals for its student-athletes. The bill now heads to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk.

Other states – especially in the Southeast – have amended NIL laws that empower collectives’ to have a significant impact on high school recruiting.

In April, Tennessee took center stage in the nationwide discussion about NIL. Mississippi also tweaked its NIL law. An amended NIL bill was recently passed in Illinois. Furthermore, the South Carolina state Senate passed its 2022-2023 budget. Inside the budget, it includes a section that takes its NIL law off the books for the fiscal year.

Yet, some states, like New York are working on bills they say would ban collectives. Collectives, though, are allowed by NCAA rules.

What’s in the MSHSL NIL policy?

The Minnesota State High School League board does outline pretty clearly what is acceptable in their NIL policy:

  • Compensation is not contingent on specific athletic performance or achievement (e.g., financial incentives based on points scored). 
  • The compensation is not provided as an inducement to attend a particular school (“recruiting”) or to remain enrolled at a particular school. 
  • Compensation is commensurate with market value. 
  • The compensation is not provided by the school or an agent of the school (e.g., booster club, foundation, etc.). 
  • NIL activities must not interfere with a student-athlete’s academic obligations. 
  • A student must not miss athletic practice, competition, travel, or other team obligations in order to participate in NIL. 

Minnesota high school student-athletes who engage in NIL must also comply with any other applicable MSHSL bylaws and policies. Any applicable school policies can also impact NIL activities.

“It is the student’s responsibility to know and understand any NCAA requirements before engaging in covered activities,” the policy states. “In order to protect eligibility, students are encouraged to closely review league rules and policies prior to engaging in any activities covered by this policy. League staff is available to answer questions regarding specific cases as they arise.”

Interestingly, the policy also points out that international students may also be subject to rules in their home countries. U.S. immigration laws and rules related to their student visa might also apply.

Recently, On3’s Pete Nakos profiled Miami‘s Lou Hedley, a punter from Australia who struck a NIL deal with LifeWallet. Nakos said there is no clear messaging from the NCAA or federal government on how international students can profit. 

Minnesota home to big names

There are several former Minnesota high school stars that could have profited big time off the NIL change.

For example, Paige Bueckers, who was a standout guard at Hopkins High School, has become one of the stars of women’s college basketball at UConn. She was the first NCAA athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Gatorade. She also continues to strike NIL deals that draw attention to social issues. With her status as one of the most heavily recruited players in women’s college basketball history, NIL experts agree she could have profited handsomely in high school.

Then there’s Minnesota native Sunisa Lee. Lee capitalized on the gold medal she won in the Olympics, while leading the Auburn gymnastics team as a freshman. Her status as an internationally known gymnast would have allowed her to profit while she was in high school.

A current Minnesota athlete that could benefit is Jaxon Howard. He’s an On3 Consensus four-star tight end from Minneapolis Robbinsdale Cooper. Minnesota, Miami, LSU and others are battling for his commitment. Howard currently has an On3 NIL Valuation of $122,000.