NIL’S ARE NOT ONLY FOR COLLEGE STARS – NEW JERSEY PERMITS HIGH SCHOOL NIL’S
In response to a question raised through family members about what parents need to know — and do — in response to a NIL offer to their 16-year-old multi-sport star, I did a bit of research. Here is what I learned. NIL’s stand for Name Image and Likeness, you may have heard about them in discussions about college recruiting. The NCAA was dragged into agreeing to allow NIL’s – which license an athlete’s name- image- and likeness, by litigation which challenged the right of schools to profit from an athlete’s NIL (think college jersey sales, college basketball and football video games) while stripping an athlete of eligibility if they profited directly. States including New Jersey have passed legislation allowing their college players to enter into NIL’s and now New Jersey’s Interscholastic governing body has amended their regulations to permit high school players to engage in NIL’s. BUT careful attention to the details of what is permitted is necessary to avoid jeopardizing the athlete’s eligibility for high school competition, the teams’ won-loss record, state playoff eligibility, and the athlete’s eventual college eligibility. There is also the potential for tax liability.
New Jersey high school athletes were permitted to enter into NIL’s beginning in January 2022 as a result of a NJSIAA Board Meeting which approved an amendment to their regulations.
D. Name, Image and Likeness. A student-athlete may profit off of the use of their own name, image and likeness (NIL). Such permissible activities include commercial endorsements, promotional activities, social media presence, product or service advertisements, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
No one employed by a member school, including coaches and administrators, may be involved with a student-athlete’s use of their NIL. Student-athletes are prohibited from making any reference to a member school or the NJSIAA when engaging in any NIL activity.
Student-athletes may not endorse or promote any third-party entities, goods or services during team activities. Student-athletes may not wear the apparel or display the logo, insignia, or identifying mark of an NIL partner during any team activities.
Student-athletes are prohibited from engaging in any NIL activities involving the following categories of products and services: (1) Adult entertainment products and services; (2) Alcohol products; (3) Tobacco and nicotine-related products; (4) Cannabis products; (5) Controlled dangerous substances; (6) Prescription pharmaceuticals; (7) Casinos and gambling, including sports betting, the lottery, and betting in connection with video games, on-line games and mobile devices; and (8) Weapons, firearms and ammunition.
Amateurism – NIL proposal – 2nd Reading (njsiaa.org)
Everyone involved must check the FAQ’s carefully to see what is permitted and what is not. njsiaa-nil-faqs-final.pdf
The very thing that may spark the interest in having the athlete “endorse” a product, restaurant, or other business – their popularity on the sports field and association with the local team – may be what IS NOT PERMITTED, see below.
May a student-athlete use school logos while engaging in NIL activities? A student-athlete’s NIL activity and his or her participation in interscholastic athletics must remain separate. Student-athletes are prohibited from making any reference to a member school or the NJSIAA when engaging in any NIL activity. For example, while marketing a product or service, student-athletes may not wear a team jersey or otherwise display the school’s name, mascot, or logo. Likewise, student-athletes may not endorse or promote any third-party entities, goods, or services during school-based team activities – which means student-athletes may not wear the apparel or display the logo, insignia, or identifying mark of an NIL partner during any school-based team activities.