Compensating High School Athletes

VALE – As we all get closer to the fall season, college athletes are busy signing endorsement deals for the first time ever. After years of colleges accepting millions for athletes’ successes, college athletes are now able to grab the cash for what is becoming know as Name, Image, Likeness (NIL).

The question now before many is the issue of high school athletes.

In a recent nationwide call, Dr. Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, commented on NIL.

“High school athletes are not included in the recent rulings on selling likeness and image,” said Niehoff. “If high school athletes were allowed to do so, we are concerned about the ability to college recruit. Being paid could detract from where they want to go.”

Niehoff admitted her organization has no control over club sports and athletes receiving compensation during club sports activities.

“We are here to protect high school eligibility,” she said.

Niehoff’s concerns were echoed by Peter Weber, Oregon School Activities Association Executive Director.

“The changes at the NCAA level and through the legislation passed in the Oregon legislature don’t change the OSAA’s amateur rules as they apply to collegiate athletes only,” said Weber. “That being said, we are keeping a close eye on how this unfolds across the country, especially as it relates to the recruiting of high school students.”

So, this all appears to pretty clear cut, right? High school athletes should not be paid.

Consider the following hypothetical situations and you will understand what schools may face in years to come.

  • “S” has a YouTube channel. She usually posts videos of her basketball games and in the last game of the year, throws up a crazy shot from beyond half court that finds nothing but net. The video goes viral, wracking up a few million hits. YouTube sends her the monetary dividends from the video.
  • “B” has played varsity receiver for three years and is well known in the community. After the season in which the team won the league title again, he is offered $50 to show up on a Saturday at a local business and play catch with local kids while their parents shop while wearing his jersey.
  • “L” has won the state swimming championship again. A local sporting goods owner offers her free goggles if she will use them exclusively next season.
  • “R” has won awards as a saxophonist for his school. Using his lists of awards as a high school musician, he posts an ad on Facebook offering to provide lessons in his town for a fee.
  • “F” signed a deal while playing club ball to wear Adidas shoes. She continued wearing Adidas shoes during the high school season, but has now received a collegiate scholarship offer from a Nike sponsored school.

Like most things in life, the question of high school athletes receiving compensation is not black and white.

To see how other states are handling this issue, check