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High School Athletes and NIL: What Might The Impact Be?

by michelle
Published: Updated:

Recap: This article discusses the changing landscape of the recruiting conversations that coaches are engaging in with prospects and the worries of high school stakeholders if NIL trickles down to the junior level. 


Concern: There may be a lack of guidance and resources for youth athletes to successfully navigate NIL, potentially opening them up to be taken advantage of. 

Rebuttal: Due to social media, there are thousands of kids who have millions of followers and are getting approached by brands, agents, etc every day. Why are we putting different guardrails in place for athletes? If this is a concern for young athletes, this also needs to be addressed in the non-athlete world.

Concern: If high school athletes can monetize their NIL, can junior high kids? Elementary? We hear stories of athletes that start getting (illegal) scholarship offers as young as 6th grade.  How young will kids start monetizing their personal brand?

Rebuttal:  Parents have been monetizing their kids (and babies!) via modeling and acting careers forever. Is it right? Not always. Do we have a good precedent in place for what it might look like? Absolutely.  

Concern: Not all athletes on a team will have the same opportunities which is not a good “sports” value to instill in the kids.

Rebuttal: This is a similar concern I have heard from coaches at the collegiate level. From my perspective, team sports athletes are well aware of who the “social media gurus” are on their team. As part of the generation that grew up with social media, they know that building a personal brand and going “viral” presents monetizable opportunities. They are clever. Actually, most high school kids could probably build a highly engaged following faster than most social media managers. Permitting high school athletes to monetize their NIL may teach them valuable lessons in business and that social media is a business tool that needs to be taken seriously. 

Permitting high school athletes to monetize their NIL will be complicated and have unintended consequences. However, it’s not the “doomsday” that everyone is making it out to be. 

Verron Haynes has spent the past few weeks visiting some of the country’s top college football programs with his son, four-star running back Justice Haynes, and the pitches they’ve heard from recruiters have a new twist.

With imminent laws allowing college players to make money off their name, image and likeness, most schools are now in an arms race, hiring third-party companies to act as consultants in content creation, education and compliance — and touting just what it might do for future recruits such as Haynes.

“They all have a spin on the way they want to handle it,” said Verron Haynes, whose son holds scholarship offers from Georgia, Alabama and Florida, among others. “We’re still waiting to see all of the nuances of it. But it is happening. I do know that.”

With potential federal legislation still up in the air, six states have NIL laws going into effect July 1. In an effort to help stop that patchwork system, the NCAA governing body is expected to vote on its own national framework this month.


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