Georgia High School Association allowing NIL deals for student athletes

Published: Oct. 12, 2023 at 3:43 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2023 at 3:52 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - For the first time ever Georgia high school student athletes can profit off their name, image, and likeness.

A rule change just went into effect this month.

In speaking to the Georgia High School Association, they said it’s all about keeping up with the times.

When the NCAA opened the door for NIL deals in 2021, high schools started to follow suit.

With the ruling in Georgia, that makes the it the 30th state to allow NIL compensation at the high school level but in speaking with the GHSA, they don’t think it’s going to change much.

“We’re talking about a small, small percentage of students that are going to do this,” said Robin Hines, the executive director for the Georgia High School Association.

So far- that’s true.

According to Hines, since student athletes in Georgia gained the ability to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness less than two weeks ago, only four have struck deals.

John Sanders, the athletic director for the Savannah Chatham County Public School System, says none of their athletes have notified them of any deals yet.

However, he wants them to be aware of the rules if they do get an opportunity:

  • The GHSA bylaw says that students can’t wear a school uniform or use their school’s name in any promotional content.
  • It also says that payment can’t be contingent on athletic performance, and it can’t be given as an incentive to play for a specific school.

Sanders says that students have to report any deals to the district within seven days, and the district will then report it to GHSA.

Otherwise, student eligibility could be affected.

“They need to communicate with their high school athletic director, or with our office, or even with a lawyer to get some advice and make sure that they’re not going to jeopardize not only their eligibility in high school, but could possibility jeopardize something in college down the road,” said Sanders.

Hines says that though there is always potential for violation of the rules, he doesn’t foresee it becoming an issue at this level.

“We’re going to work really hard to make sure that everyone is educated on what this is, what this policy is. Is pretty cut and dry,” said Hines.

So far, WTOC hasn’t been able to locate any Savannah area students that have made NIL deals- but it could happen in the future.

And if it does, there are concerns that there could be some inequity among who gets deals and who doesn’t.

Concerns about high school NIL deals

As we’ve seen at the college level, NIL deals at the high school level opens up a can of worms that several athletic directors say are going to take a while to figure out.

They agree that the rules of NIL compensation are pretty cut and dry but worry that inequity between students and egos could become an issue.

“If the kid is very arrogant and he starts talking about, ‘Hey, I got this, I got that’, whatever, some of the kids on the team might get jealous,” said John Sanders, athletic director for the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.

Which, any coach will tell you, is never good for a team.

A lesser concern- but still a concern-, Sanders says, is how egos fueled by NIL deals could affect athlete/coach relationships.

“The kid could say, ‘Hey, I’m so and so, and I’m this recruit, and I’m getting money from here, and you can’t tell me what to do,’ said Sanders.

One of the biggest concerns among coaches has been inequity between schools themselves.

The Savannah area alone has three four-star recruits- all of them play for private schools.

Sanders, however, says the extra scrutiny the new bylaw brings isn’t a bad thing.

“If a kid is going to be receiving any kind of funds for NIL, at least it’s above the table. Everyone knows what’s going on, and it’s reported to Georgia High School.”

Part of the GHSA bylaw requires that any NIL deals can’t be made conditional on what school an athlete plays for.

Previous recruiting rules are still in place.

“The undue influence rules are still in place. You can’t use NIL to unduly influence someone to move and change. And the school do a good job of looking after themselves and monitoring themselves and letting us know what’s going on,” said Robert Hines, executive director of the Georgia High School Association.

Overall, Hines doesn’t believe that the landscape of high school sports in the state will be affected very much.

“There’s not going to be a whole lot of change. This is just another factor to manage and there’s going to be mistakes that will be made early, but I don’t anticipate a whole lot of problems. Our association always rises to the task.”

For a more thorough look at the NIL bylaw, you can find that here.