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What is NIL for High School Athletes?

Daniel Morrison06/08/22
Article written by:On3 imageDaniel Morrison

When the Supreme Court ruled in Alston vs. NCAA, it essentially told the NCAA that their model was unconstitutional. This opened the door for states to legalize NIL in the Summer of 2021. With the writing on the wall, the NCAA finally relented and began to allow college athletes in all sports to receive compensation through NIL.

However, the NCAA has no say over whether high school students can profit in the same way. High school athletes are subject to different athletic associations, and therefore to different NIL rules. Still, some laws put in place allow high schoolers to profit from NIL, while the future of NIL at the high school level remains uncertain.

What is NIL?

NIL stands for “Name and Image Likeness.” It refers to a person’s ability to profit off their image. In most cases, this means getting paid for advertisements and appearances. These can be done both in person and remotely. There are a wide variety of differences in NIL law, depending on the state that you’re in. This can make it challenging to know what to expect from name and image likeness.

Which High School Athletes Can Take Advantage of Name and Image Likeness?

In most cases, NIL legislation has a focus on amateur athletes at the college level. This means that many high school students go overlooked. Still, there are a few states where NIL is allowed to some degree for high school students. In several other states, it is unclear whether NIL is allowed within the laws and rules of the state.

States that allow students to profit off NIL include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Utah

Several states are unclear as to whether you can profit from NIL in high school. They are:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont

In June 2022 Connecticut became the ninth state to allow NIL for high school athletes. They were then followed by Minnesota, who became the 10th. Meanwhile, discussions in Pennsylvania, by the PIAA, will take place this Summer on the matter.

How Can You Determine Your NIL Value in High School?

It can be difficult to determine your NIL value. After all, these are new markets that are still trying to determine what fair market rates are going to be. In the case of star athletes, it’s a little easier to determine your NIL valuation. However, for good but not famous players, this is more of a challenge.

Things to consider when determining NIL evaluation:

  • Social Media Presence
    • There are very few tangible ways to see an athlete’s marketability. The higher the follower count you have and the more interaction your posts have, the more marketable you are.
  • The sport you play
    • Depending on what sport, and what position, you play, there will be different levels of NIL potential. It’s a simple fact that the quarterback has more value than a hockey goalie.
  • The team you play for
    • The reality is that if you play for a more high profile team, then you will have better NIL value than someone who plays at a small school.
  • How well you play
    • The better you play, the more eyes will be on you. Therefore, the more your NIL is going to be valued.

What is the Future of NIL for High Schoolers?

As of right now, much of the focus on NIL is at the college level. That’s rapidly changing, though, and momentum is increasing to extend these laws to high school students. After all, the logic largely remains the same. If someone is profitable, why shouldn’t they be able to monetize themselves? As long as it doesn’t impact the integrity of the game, there is no reason to prevent NIL benefits.

However, these things are slow. Parents and coaches are often confused by NIL, which can make them tentative to take advantage of opportunities. Drew Sanders, a high school coach in Texas, told USA Today, “Parents want to make sure that they’re not doing anything that would get them in trouble eligibility-wise … This is all brand-new for everybody, so I have really zero experience with this. As a coach, I’m not really sure where to steer them to.”

The concerns about fairness in the world of NIL are real too. In July 2021, Karissa Neihoff of the National Federation of State High School Associations said, “While it is not our position to debate the merits of current college athletes earning money from their NIL, it should be understood that these changes do not affect current high school student-athletes. Current high school student-athletes CANNOT earn money as a result of their connection to their high school team…Corruption, absolute corruption, taking advantage of our student athletes, misinformation, lack of faith, lack of follow through disappointment, which would be really destructive. I’m also concerned about exacerbation of inequities that already exist.”

Still, as time goes on, state laws are going to change and there is going to be a push to allow NIL at the high school level across the United States. It’s not here yet, but it is coming.

For now, most high school athletes won’t be able to profit from NIL. However, for athletes looking to play at the next level, they need to stay up to date on what is allowed, what their value is, and how to take advantage of NIL to the fullest.