(WHTM) — In December, the PIAA approved Name, Image, and Likeness bylaws for high school athletes. Pennsylvania now joins more than a dozen states with approved NIL rules in prep sports. So what has the impact been like since high school NIL has been approved in the Keystone State?
So far, its influence has been incredibly small.
“I think it’s going to be a select few. I mean you’re talking about, they’d have to be a national recruit,” said Bishop McDevitt head football coach Jeff Weachter. “Kids like that have a chance but the average high school athlete I don’t think it’s going to affect them. I don’t think they’re going to get any money.”
No giant deals have been signed in Pennsylvania yet, but even when they are, there are strict guidelines.
“We wanted to set parameter to give (high school athletes) an education and let them know that this is going to be permissible, but it’s going to be permissible within these guidelines,” said PIAA Associate Executive Director Melissa Mertz. “This isn’t just a free for all and there’s a lot of protections that are still going to be in place.”
Athletes entering into NIL deals cannot endorse, display or promote any of the following products and services:
- Adult entertainment
- Casinos and gambling, including but not limited to, sports betting, the lottery, and betting in connection with video games.
- Tobacco and electronic smoking products
- Opioids and prescription drugs.
- Controlled dangerous substances
- Weapons, firearms, and ammunition
The PIAA does have an officially sanctioned sport for rifle shooting, which directly comes in conflict with potential NIL deals with air rifle manufacturers and apparel companies.
But the PIAA did discuss this in their board meeting and came to the conclusion that the organization will review NIL deals on a case-by-case basis for athletes in these sports for approval.
With NIL deals comes a handful of challenges for high school athletes, like the tax ramifications when signing a deal. To help their student athletes, the PIAA is offering a handful of free courses like webinars and FAQs to help their athletes better understand NIL so that they can make informed decisions.
NIL, especially at the college level is the wild west, and Penn State athletic director Pat Kraft cautions high school athletes to look out for bad intentions.
“If an athlete can make money with their NIL and do it, awesome,” Kraft said. “There’s a lot of sharks out there and if we’re having troubles now (in college) keeping people away, what’s a 14-year-old, 15-year-old, or a 16-year-old dealing with?”
NIL is a world of unknowns that is constantly changing on the creative ways it can be used. And the PIAA is ready to adopt to the changing landscape it time progresses. But one thing won’t change: recruiting students to play at a certain school because of money won’t happen in Pennsylvania.
“That’s the last thing we want is kids starting to move around thinking, ‘oh I can get an NIL deal if I’m over at School ‘A’ versus being here at school ‘B,'” said Mertz. “So we are putting all of that into our rule.”
The PIAA rules state that NIL deals cannot be offered by anyone with affiliation with a member school including booster clubs and coaches. And any deals cannot include any school affiliation, like jerseys. They can only contain the name, image, and likeness of the athlete themselves
If a student enters into any type of NIL agreement or contract, they must notify their school principal or athletic director within 72 hours after entering into an agreement.
“I think the PIAA has been really on top of this thing,” said Weachter. “If (cheating is) what people are worried about, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think it’s going to be so very few kids. You’re talking about one out of a half a million people are going to get that.”
For full PIAA guidelines of NIL, you can view their meeting notes outlining their policy.