Name, image and likeness, or what is more commonly known as NIL, has swept the sports world in the past couple of years.
Since its introduction at the college level in 2021, we’ve seen a revolution in college athletics that’s allowed student-athletes to make serious money while playing sports.
Though NIL has been beneficial to many athletes who might not get the chance to play professionally, concerns have arisen from NIL expansion. High school athletic associations across the country have passed regulations that have allowed high school athletes to cash in on NIL.
The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) was one of the most recent athletic associations to approve of NIL regulations. That decision came on Oct. 2, making Georgia the 30th state to allow high school athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.
I’m not taking a stance against NIL. In fact, I believe that NIL has done wonders for the college game. My big concern with high school NIL stems not from players getting paid but from how it’s to be regulated.
NIL regulation has been a hot topic since it’s introduction to college sports. Bringing it to the high school level has only caused more issues to arise.
Georgia ranks 12th in the U.S. for the most total of private and public high schools with 808 high schools. While not every school in Georgia is associated with the GHSA, there is a legitimate concern that every school in the state will abide by the rules.
Still, the GHSA, like most high school associations, have put in place rules meant to control how NIL is used. Such rules include:
-Players are unable to profit off of a specific athletic performance or achievement.
-Compensation is not meant to be an incentive to remain enrolled at a school.
-Players are prohibited from using school “marks” (school name, logos, uniforms, mascots, etc.).
These rules, in theory, are meant to prevent NIL from getting out of hand. However, enforcing these policies seems like a next to impossible task.
Just looking at the college level, there has been numerous instances of schools using NIL for recruiting purposes. Furthermore, coaches have spoken out against NIL, believing it has led to tampering within programs through the use of the transfer portal.
LSU head football coach Brian Kelly is just one of many coaches who have spoken out about NIL relegations.
“College athletics is at a crossroads if this doesn’t get fixed,” Kelly said in an interview with ESPN in June. “Where’s Title IX in all this? Where’s Division II sports? Where’s Division III sports? If every state is tailoring bills to their own self-interest rather than the health of college athletics as a whole, that’s not going to work.”
With how NIL currently operates, each state has their own guidelines as to how athletes can get compensated. There is no uniform standard that every state has to follow, allowing some states to get a leg up on other states.
Currently, there is nothing stopping university boosters from forming groups to pool NIL money to attract higher-profile recruits. Having such a thing happen at the high school level would be detrimental to high school athletics.
In an interview with the Knoxville News Sentinel in July 2022, Eccker Sports CCO Tim Prukop shared how high school collectives would be impossible to stop.
“What would be terrible is if each high school created its own collective and tried to bring kids from one school to the other, although we may see that,” Prukop said. “There’s no way that anybody could prevent somebody from setting up an LLC, taking in money and then giving money to somebody for something that they do.”
There isn’t a need to reverse course on NIL. However, not changing how it’s regulated could have dire consequences down the line.
Written by Austin Bruce, Co-Editor in Chief. Graphic courtesy of Gavin Ponder, Graphics Editor.