Florida NIL deals approved for high school athletes: See the details of FHSAA's new rules (2024)

The Florida High School Athletic Association voted Tuesday to permit Name, Image and Likeness deals for athletes, a move that could reshape the high school sports landscape statewide.

The 13-member board of directors approved the measure by unanimous vote.

Under the bill, which largely rewrites FHSAA Policy 9.9, the association will now permit high school students to earn money from their name, image and likeness, overcoming concerns that NIL could accelerate recruiting and exacerbate competitive imbalance.

Pending Department of Education approval in July, the measure takes effect in time for the 2024-25 season, meaning that some Sunshine State high school athletes could begin receiving NIL benefits in months.

“It’s not pay-for-performance, per se. But I think we’re trying to avoid what’s happened on the collegiate side," said board member Sara Bayliss, college counselor at St. John Paul II Catholic in Tallahassee. 'I don’t think it will be used widely, but our student-athletes should be compensated as long as it falls between the lines and doesn’t become a recruiting problem. If it does, we’ll deal with it.”

David Whitley:If you have an alternative to NIL in Florida high schools, please speak up

NIL meaning: What is NIL?

Florida NIL deals approved for high school athletes: See the details of FHSAA's new rules (1)

Under the NIL proposal, athletes will be permitted to profit from their name, image and likeness without placing their athletic eligibility at risk.

This could include, for example, endorsem*nts for a business, long prohibited under amateurism regulations for high school athletics and — until recent years — college athletics as well.

Under the provisions of the new rules, students and their parents or guardians are responsible for negotiating any NIL arrangements. The FHSAA rules also prohibit athletes from earning money off NIL while using their school's uniform, logo, equipment or similar intellectual or physical properties.

A provision forbids schools from using NIL as an enticement for students to attend their program, and prohibits students from securing an NIL deal after an in-season transfer without a good cause exemption from the relevant school district.

Students violating the NIL policies would result in a formal warning and the termination of the agreement. A second offense would lead to a one-year suspension.

FHSAA: No NIL Collectives

While college-style NIL is coming to high school sports, college-style NIL collectives — at least if the FHSAA rules hold — are not.

The FHSAA prohibits schools from setting up college-style NIL collectives, defined under Policy as "groups, organizations, or cooperative enterprises that exist to collect funds from donors and help facilitate NIL deals for student-athletes, and/or create ways for athletes to monetize from their NIL."

However, board members weighed the challenges involved in regulating collectives, and how the association can police booster clubs if they function as de facto collectives.

“We don’t want to pay kids just because they are great athletes. I think that’s the problem with colleges and NIL. They can’t control the collectives," said board member Ricky Bell, formerly Leon County Schools director of student activities. "We don’t want to see that in high schools.”

The FHSAA also bans NIL deals with certain types of organizations: adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco and vaping products, cannabis and related substances, controlled substances and prescription drugs, gambling and related organizations, weapons and ammunition, or political or social activism.

Which other states approve NIL for high school?

Florida NIL deals approved for high school athletes: See the details of FHSAA's new rules (2)

By approving NIL, Florida joins a growing number of athletic associations, now numbering more than 30 states.

States also permitting NIL deals as of the fall are Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.

Unlike most other states, however, Florida has open enrollment policies, which have spurred concerns that NIL could further accelerate the state's rate of player transfers. FHSAA executive director Craig Damon proposed language last month that would have prevented transferring players from receiving NIL deals, but was overruled by the board of directors.

What is Florida's NIL history?

Up until this point, NIL for high school athletes has been off the table for Florida: As recently as 2021, former executive director George Tomyn reiterated that students accepting NIL deals would face a one-year ineligibility period. But the policy has continued to face challenges.

In 2022, Westminster Christian baseball infielder Sal Stewart and University of Miami football player Gilbert Frierson sued the FHSAA and several other entities after FHSAA bylaws prevented Stewart from accepting an NIL deal with LifeWallet.

A year and a half ago, Bartram Trail girls lacrosse attacker Ryann Frechette reached a preliminary NIL deal with a Maryland-based equipment manufacturer, but the FHSAA board of directors denied the deal following an appeal.

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What are the reactions?

While board members largely celebrated the vote, both supporters and opponents recognized that Sunshine State sports are sailing toward uncharted waters.

Monica Colucci, school board member from Miami-Dade County, said the FHSAA's NIL vote will "put us on par with the rest of the country."

"This is something new. We are going into new territory for the state of Florida," she said.

Board member Paul Selvidio, chief financial officer of the Community School of Naples, said he would have preferred some different specifics but welcomed the move for allowing high school students to profit from their athletic talents.

"I think there's a lot of fear out there, but I have confidence in the system and that the free market will regulate all of this," Selvidio said.

Selvidio acknowledged, though, that enforcing the regulations will be difficult.

“The schools don’t have compliance departments," he said. "If the NCAA can’t regulate it with its thousands of employees, it’s unreasonable to think schools or the association can. We’re not equipped for that.”

Shelton Crews, executive director of the Florida Athletic Coaches Association, told the board he is not entirely opposed to the idea of NIL, but he expressed reservations about its potential pitfalls.

"There's a lot of scary things there. Look what has happened in college athletics… The NCAA has not regulated it, and now we're jumping into it, and I don't know if we have the mechanisms in place," Crews said.

He cited the future acceleration of transfers, effects on coach pay and the difficulty of regulating NIL deals.

The Gainesville Sun's David Whitley contributed to this story.

Florida NIL deals approved for high school athletes: See the details of FHSAA's new rules (2024)


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