We are well over a year into a new era of college sports. Back in the summer of 2021, the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA, saying its restrictions on “education-related benefits” violated anti-trust laws. In what was a more significant statement, that decision was unanimous.
Supreme Court justices from both sides of the political spectrum told the NCAA that their argument of “amateurism” wasn’t enough to keep college students from making money off their name, image and likeness. While most of the attention has gone to college students earning money off the ruling, some high school student-athletes are also reaping the benefits of the 2021 ruling.
It has only been 15 months since that ruling that opened the door to a new world of college athletics, but NIL for high school athletes has been moving almost just as fast.
So far, 18 states and the District of Columbia have jumped on board and allowed high school students to make money off their name, image and likeness. Like the Supreme Court ruling, states that tend to lean towards both sides of the political spectrum have gotten NIL rolling for high school athletes. The list of states includes Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Utah.
Among these states, there are some restrictions though. In some states, there can be no mention of their school, team, or state activities association. That is the case in Alaska, where the provision adds:
“this provision is not intended to restrict the right of any student to participate in a commercial endorsement provided there is no school team, school, ASAA Region, or ASAA affiliation.” - from the ASAA 2021-2022 Handbook
Similar provisions are included in California, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and North Dakota.
Another common restriction is the promotion of certain products. In New Jersey, the products students cannot promote include:
"adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco and nicotine-related products, cannabis products, controlled dangerous substances, prescription drugs, casinos and other ways of gambling, along with weapons and firearms." - from the NJSIAA 2020-2021 Constitution
Minnesota, Maine, and Connecticut also prohibit high school athletes from providing commercial endorsements to certain similar products as well. While the nearly 20 states above all allow high school athletes to profit from NIL deals, some states do restrict how exactly they can make money.
Take a look at Kansas, a state where NIL is legal, but not in the traditional aspects. KSHSAA rules say students who paid to play in athletics are ineligible in that sport. With that being said, they are allowed to teach the sports they play. So, they could give lessons to younger kids and be compensated, but the rule says that the compensation must be limited to teaching the game. Students are also allowed to be paid to officiate athletic contests, but they are not allowed to be paid to coach teams or individuals in competitions. The athletes are allowed to accept meals, lodging, and transportation while competing, but they can only accept the service. They are not allowed to accept money to cover these services. Students cannot accept products or pay for statistical achievements in sports like the number of goals or points scored in a season, and they are also not allowed to compete for cash prizes.
Nevada is also a state where high school student-athletes can make money off their name, image, and likeness, but it is limited in a completely different way from Kansas. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association allows students to participate in commercial endorsements, but only in states that the association does not sanction. That takes a lot of sports out of the picture, as the NIAA sponsors cross country, football, golf, volleyball, soccer, tennis, basketball, bowling, flag football, skiing, wrestling, baseball, softball, swimming and diving, and track and field. But for those students who don’t participate in any of those 15 sports, NIL deals are fair game, with some similar association restrictions from other states.
Despite the fact that so many states have already gotten on board the NIL train allowing high school athletes to cash in like their college counterparts, you can expect plenty more changes to come.
We are still just over a year into this new world of NIL, and there will likely be more changes to rules across the country. But one thing is certain, high school student-athletes are also reaping the benefits of a new Name, Image, and Likeness area we have started to live in.