NIL Landscape for Prep Athletes and Ways to Get Started Now
By Georgia Meyers, CleanKonnect
At the high school level, NIL regulations are a bit more convoluted than at the NCAA level. As of March 2023, there were at least 26 state associations in which high schoolers were NIL eligible, including New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and California.
The NIL floodgates at the high school opened in December 2022, when six states including Tennessee and Illinois adjusted their state guidance to allow NIL. In late-December, New Hampshire became the 26th state to allow NIL at the high school level. Other states are exploring allowing NIL at the high school level, including Georgia and Texas. This tracker from OpenDorse breaks down the status of every state’s high school NIL bylaws.
Dr. Karissa Niehoff from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the organization that oversees almost eight million high school athletes, said about NIL:
“A high school student can be an incredible entrepreneur. We know that they are already doing this. They’re influencers. They’re actually engaging in some pretty high stakes relationships with business opportunities. We are not at the point yet where they’re getting paid to wear their high school jersey. That’s what we hope to protect.”
High School Athletes Who Have Participated in NIL
- Juju Watkins: Women’s basketball player Juju Watkins became the first high school athlete to sign with Klutch Sports Group for NIL representation.
- Peyton Coburn: Golfer Peyton Coburn was the first high school athlete in Oklahoma to land an NIL deal, partnering with the National Scouting Report.
- Jada Williams: Women’s player Jada Williams has a half-dozen deals, including with Spalding, Move Insoles, Lemon Perfect, and GymShark.
- Jared McCain: Men’s basketball player Jared McCain has gained great popularity through his significant social media presence. He has NIL deals with Champs Sports, Lemon Perfect, Crocs, and more. He is represented by EXCEL.
- Mikey Williams: Men’s basketball player made headlines being one of the first high school athletes to sign an NIL deal when he signed a multi-year deal with Puma in October 2021.
Five Ways High School Athletes Can Prepare for the NIL Landscape
- BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND: High school athletes can start building their personal brand by creating and maintaining a social media presence before they ever sign a letter of intent. This could involve regularly posting about their training and competitions, sharing their interests and hobbies, and engaging with their followers. By building a strong personal brand, athletes can attract potential sponsors and advertisers early on. They should post engaging content that appeals to their target audience and showcases their unique qualities that are a mix of athletic, lifestyle, and personality content.
- IDENTIFY POTENTIAL BRAND PARTNERS: High school athletes can research potential brands and partners that align with their personal brand and values. They can start by looking at companies that are involved in their sport or are popular among their fan base. Once they have identified potential sponsors, they can reach out to them to establish a relationship and convey to the brand why they are such believers in that product/service.
- CREATE CONTENT: High school athletes can create content that showcases their skills and personality. This could include videos of their training and competitions, vlogs about their daily life, or behind-the-scenes glimpses into their sports team. By creating engaging content, athletes can attract more followers and increase their value to potential brand partners.
- NETWORK WITH OTHER INFLUENCERS: High school athletes can network with influencers and other athletes in their sport. By collaborating with influencers, athletes can gain exposure to a wider audience and potentially attract new followers and brand partners who were already following or working with the other athlete influencer.
- EDUCATE THEMSELVES: High school athletes should educate themselves on the rules and regulations surrounding NIL immediately. They should understand what types of deals are allowed in their respective states, what they need to disclose, and how to properly report their income. For example, high school athletes in Maryland cannot use their NIL to promote video games. By being informed and prepared, athletes can avoid potential legal or eligibility issues and maximize their earning potential.
Want to Become NIL Certified?
Whether you are a parent, brand, school official, student-athlete, student interested in becoming a sports agent one day, or college sports fan, truly understanding how the NIL landscape works is paramount as NIL becomes more ubiquitous.
CleanKonnect offers the first ever NIL Certification Course which includes:
- Aggregated NIL data points and insights from reputable sources like OpenDorse, NIL Network, Front Office Sports, Business of College Sports and the NCAA
- Gold nuggets” of best practices that CleanKonnect has amassed from working with athletes, brands, and agents on NIL education, tips for signing NIL contracts, working with Collectives safely, and producing content for brand partners
This Certification is valuable for:
- High school student-athletes who want to prepare for NIL at the college level
- College student-athletes who want to understand best processes to disclose NIL deals to their schools
- Coaches and staff officials wanting to understand exactly what NIL activity is and is not permissible
- Sports management majors who aspire to be GMs or sports agents
- Parents of athletes who trying to better understand the pitfalls of the first two years of the NIL landscape
Check out nilcertifications.cleankonnect.com to get NIL Certified today.
Meet the Expert Contributor
Georgia is an intern at CleanKonnect and will graduate from the University of Michigan this spring with a degree in Sport Management. Next year, she will be attending the University of Michigan Ross School of Business One-Year Master of Management program in order to expand her business knowledge. Georgia hopes to work with athletes regarding their NIL and then ultimately work in the area of social impact by utilizing the connection sport offers.