3 Things High School Coaches Need to Know about NIL (name, image, likeness)

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By Malik S. Jackson, Esq.

Nationally, interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics stakeholders need help interpreting legislation, regulation, administration and litigation developments on NIL rights and compensation.

Be on alert: NIL pay is not for high school athletes. Coaches that teach interscholastic athletes and mentor intercollegiate athletes must understand the new laws and eligibility rules to keep players eligible to compete. Although the NCAA waived enforcement of NIL-related eligibility rules, they have not deleted these rules. Families and coaches jeopardize player eligibility when mistakenly suggesting athletes enter NIL agreements for pay while in high school. Until intercollegiate athletic participation has a definition and start date, every player, including multisport athletes, should avoid entry into any NIL deals until obtaining a high school diploma, GED or an equivalent. Establishing this “fence” around players is necessary to protect their high school eligibility, especially since licensed and unlicensed agents are ready to pounce in states where NIL legislation has taken effect.

1. Inform players and families: No NIL deals until a player’s high school graduation

To be safe, coaches and players must treat NIL rights to compensation as beginning upon a player’s high school graduation. The executive director of the NFHS says the NCAA’s waiver of athletics eligibility requirements for NIL deals is “disturbing and contradictory” and clarified that NIL pay is not for high school athletes. Coaches need to counsel intercollegiate athletes to define the scope of any representation for NIL deals in a written agreement after graduation.

2. Inform players and families of the special NIL treatment for elite minors

Obtain court approval for NIL deals: intercollegiate minors must engage courts to approve NIL deals since minors lack the capacity to contract. This affects early enrollees, minor freshmen and NIL pay providers. Parents entering NIL deals on behalf of a minor may create legal exposure and potential high school athletics ineligibility. For example, NIL agreements entered by parents on behalf of minors related to gambling and performance-enhancing drugs will imperil a minor’s eligibility to compete.

3. Stop any attempts to recruit high school players with NIL deals

Avoid any college recruiter that uses NIL deals to recruit players to join or stay in an athletic program since this violates the law and NCAA rules. Coaches must counsel all intercollegiate players to avoid any NIL deal in exchange for participation or achievement in an athletic program, and players must avoid pay or inducements to participate. Additionally, a player must avoid pay or inducements to dissuade the player from transferring away from a school.

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Understanding the rules and regulations involving NIL pay will take time and effort. There is a lot to understand on the federal, state and institutional level.

About the Author

Malik S. Jackson, Esq. is a sports attorney with Smith Hulsey & Busey in Jacksonville, Fla. As a former NCAA quarterback, middle school teacher and football coach, he brings a unique perspective to his practice.

Jackson helps clients navigate NIL issues, including:

  1. Federal and state legislation
  2. Federal and state regulation and rulemaking
  3. Institutional, conference and associational administration
  4. Federal and state court litigation
  5. Contract drafting on NIL

Contact Malik at 904-359-7717 or mjackson@smithhulsey.com