What High School Athletes Should Know About NIL

Published on September 15, 2021

By Courtney Sakellaris
Senior Manager, High Schools, Honest Game

There has never been a more exciting time to be a student-athlete. For the first time in history, student-athletes are free to earn money by using their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). Until now, the ability for student-athletes to trade their publicity for financial compensation was banned under the NCAA governed rules of “amateurism.”

As a student-athlete, chances are you have heard a lot about NIL. However, you may be confused about the new rules and how you can benefit from them. This article provides you guidance in navigating this new, uncharted NIL terrain so that you know about the new opportunities now available to you.

Why NIL for high school student-athletes is especially confusing

NIL rules differ for college and high school student-athletes, and because they are evolving in real-time it’s hard to understand what applies to high schoolers.

In most states, high school student-athletes are not allowed to monetize their name, image, and likeness. This can seem confusing because the NCAA rules state that high school student-athletes can monetize NIL and still be NCAA eligible.

The important thing here is that while high school student-athletes are eligible in the NCAA’s eyes, they could be jeopardizing their high school eligibility. Those decisions are made at the state level, and most have decided that high school athletes are NOT allowed to profit off of NIL.

Before a high school student-athlete can profit from NIL, the state athletic association and, in some cases, state law must allow it. While dozens of NIL laws are already in effect, these laws only apply to college students.

Check out this map to track how your state is considering NIL decisions.

Here are some important NIL points all high school student-athletes should consider.

I am a current student-athlete in high school and beginning my recruiting process. What do I need to know?

During your recruiting process you can ask questions about NIL and research the NIL policies and resources provided by the NCAA and your prospective schools.

The more knowledge and understanding you have, the better prepared you will be when you step onto a college campus your freshman year.

Find out more on NIL from the NCAA.

What steps can I take as a high school athlete to create NIL opportunities in the future?

Just like practice and preparation for competition, building a brand takes time, effort, and intention.

You can begin to develop and grow your personal brand by following a few key steps:

  • Commit to your academic success. Having a strong academic record and showing improvement throughout high school goes a long way to support your brand as a recruit and an NIL candidate.
  • Make sure all of your social media channels are clean and free of any inappropriate content.
  • Highlight your hobbies and interests to create a strong brand for yourself using high-quality imagery.
  • Work closely with your parent(s) or guardian(s) to ensure you have a plan in place for when your NIL opportunities become available.
    The effort and attention to your personal brand will take time and guidance from your trusted support system.
  • Research current platforms that are able to assist in finding opportunities for student athletes, assist in following compliance rules and educating on the fees/revenue share.

Find out more about the marketplaces out there for student-athletes monetizing NIL from the Business of College Sports.

NIL opens up another element of the sports experience for student-athletes to consider. For high school student-athletes it’s important to know what’s allowed and what’s not.

To create the most opportunity, all student-athletes looking to play in college should start by setting a strong foundation. Make sure you’re on track for NCAA eligibility and have the data you need to consider the best college fit. Honest Game can help by providing individualized guidance for a successful post-high school path.