Ohio high school athletes cannot capitalize on name, image and likeness (NIL) opportunities. For now.
The announcement came Tuesday after a majority (538) of Ohio’s 817 Ohio High School Athletic Association member schools voted not to pass a proposed change to the association’s Amateurism Bylaw 4-10, which would have allowed high school athletes to benefit financially on their NIL as college athletes have. Administrators had from May 1-16 to vote. Nearly every school participated in the voting process, with 813 schools casting their ballot (99.5 percent).
Ohio would have been the 10th state to permit NIL for high school athletes, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Utah. Ten additional states and the District of Columbia are discussing similar options. Texas and Florida are two of the thirty-plus states that currently prohibit NIL earnings for prep athletes.
"Every year, the referendum voting process shows that our member schools have a voice in this democratic process," OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute said. "Our office was very pleased with the discussion and insights our schools expressed this spring as we met with them about each of the 14 proposals. If NIL is going to enter the Ohio interscholastic landscape, we want the schools to be the ones to make that determination."
While Ohio athletes are still not allowed to sign endorsement deals without compromising eligibility, had the proposal passed, there would have been restrictions. Athletes would have been banned from using school name, logo, mascot and/or other trademarks and would not have been allowed to promote casinos, gambling, drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Other stipulations were endorsement activities could not take place during team activities and money earned could not benefit athletic departments or teams. All compensated NIL activity was to be disclosed to a designated person at each school.
Penalties for NIL violations had not been determined, but punishment would likely have included forfeiture of games, exclusion from the postseason and suspension.
Potential for NIL revenue includes selling digital images, specialized merchandise, holding youth camps, public appearances and sponsorships – both shoe and auto. Hefty social media followings add appeal to athletes. Elevated recruiting is a potential pitfall.
In December, two five-star 2024 basketball prospects from New York – Ian Jackson of Cardinal Hayes and Johnuel "Boogie" Fland of Archbishop Stepinac – signed deals with social media company Spreadshop. According to the New York Post
, Jackson and Fland will receive four figures per month for six months in exchange for one social media post per week in which they identify themselves as Spreadshop athletes. The duo also receives a percentage of merchandise sales on the company’s products carrying their likeness and each has the ability to build their own personal brand on the organization’s platform. Jackson was the MaxPreps National Sophomore of the Year
. Fland was third team.
In March, The Athletic reported that an unnamed high school junior and five-star football prospect had signed an NIL deal that would generate $8 million by the athlete’s junior year of college. The first payment of $350,000 was supposed to arrive “almost immediately.”
Several states will discuss NIL this spring and summer, including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan and Oregon.
Said Ute: "Whatever we do moving forward, it will include discussion on (NIL)
with our school administrators, Board of Directors, staff and leaders of
other state high school athletic associations.” States that allow NIL for high school athletes
Alaska, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Utah States where NIL legislation isn’t clear for high school athletes
Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine States that are considering NIL for high school athletes
Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota States that do not allow NIL for high school athletes
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming