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If a Florida regulatory authority allows, high school athletes may get paid through endorsements

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Tallahassee, Florida – A plan that would see high school athletes compensated through commercial agreements like endorsement deals may soon be approved by the agency that regulates high school athletics in Florida.

A possible amendment to the bylaws of the Florida High School Athletic Association that would permit student-athletes to make money off of their name, likeness, and image under a policy known as a NIL policy was discussed at a meeting on Tuesday. At a meeting on June 4, the 13-member board—of which eight were nominated by Governor Ron DeSantis in August—will take a vote on the proposal.

A portion of the FHSAA’s regulations governing “amateurism” in athletics will be revised under the proposal. According to the concept, districts and schools would have to stay out of the arrangements.

“Student-athletes and their parents/guardians will be required to negotiate any NIL activities independent of their school, school district, or the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association),” the proposal says.

The policy will permit business transactions such as product or service advertisements, social media presence, promotional activities, and commercial endorsements, among others.

The possible change at the high school level comes after a radical change in college athletics over the last few years that permits athletes to make money off of their name, likeness, and image. Florida implemented its first NIL statute in July 2021. However, DeSantis supported amendments to the law this year that essentially enlarged its scope and permitted institutions to participate more actively in the process.

Colleges and universities must provide financial literacy training for student-athletes prior to their graduation in accordance with Florida’s collegiate NIL law. The goal of the high school NIL policy that was debated on Thursday is to encourage athletes to get financial literacy.

“By providing student-athletes with knowledge about potential legal and financial drawbacks associated with NIL activities, high schools can contribute to the overall welfare of their student-athletes,” the proposal says. “The FHSAA stands ready to help its student-athletes succeed in this new sports and business landscape.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, board members did not reach a consensus on the topic of high-school financial education or whether districts would be in charge of offering it.

The topic of whether or not student-athletes should be permitted to employ agents to help them negotiate NIL deals was also raised during Tuesday’s session.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, a copy of the proposal was made available on the FHSAA website. It featured a current regulation that forbids high school athletes from hiring agents “to manage his/her athletic” future.

Student-athletes and their families are also “encouraged to seek legal counsel and tax advice when considering NIL activity,” according to a portion of the policy.

Paul Selvidio, chief financial officer of Community School of Naples and member of the FHSAA board, contended that agents may be knowledgeable about NIL matters and may assist student-athletes.

“I think we have to be careful there, if we’re asking people to get advice on their NIL opportunities, this seems to be a gray area that needs further clarification,” Selvidio said.

Agents, Selvidio argued, would play a significant role in educating athletes and their families.

“I certainly know what an agent is, but an agent does a lot of different things. Which would include, I’d imagine, once NIL gets adopted here, they’ll be the local NIL experts,” Selvidio added.

Board members approved a modification to the suggested policy that would loosen the ban on hiring agents. The engagement of agents “for all other activities other than advising on NIL related matters” will be restricted under the new strategy.

Other limitations would also apply to high school players attempting to negotiate endorsement deals.
According to the proposal, student-athletes would not be permitted to promote businesses or products using their school’s logos, mascots, or uniforms “unless granted authorization by prior written consent from the school, district, or (Florida High School Athletic) Association, respectively.”

It would also be against the rules for athletes to promote certain goods and services in an attempt to profit from NIL arrangements. The proposal prohibits the use of prescription medications, alcohol, tobacco, vaping, gambling, cannabis, and guns, among other goods and services.

Additionally, the proposal would forbid the use of NIL business agreements in the recruitment of student-athletes.

“NIL activities shall not be used to pressure, urge, or entice a student-athlete to attend a school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics. The NIL agreement shall not be used as a guise for athletic recruiting,” the proposal says, in part.

 

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