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North Carolina High School Athletes Could Get Paid if Name, Image and Likeness Proposal is Adopted

High school student-athletes in North Carolina could soon start getting paid if a new proposal passes on Wednesday.

The Board of Directors of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), the governing body of prep sports in the state, discussed a proposal on Tuesday that would let student-athletes profit off of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). It is very similar to how college students can get sponsorship deals for large amounts of money.  

Board members are expected to vote on the measure today at the NCHSAA’s headquarters in Chapel Hill.  Their meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. and is scheduled to last most of the day.  It will be streamed live online on the NCHSAA’s YouTube Channel.  It can also be accessed on its web site (nchsaa.org).

The NCHSAA’s Policy Committee has recommended that the proposal be approved.

If it passes, the NCHSAA would let student-athletes profit off their name, image, and likeness as early as July 1st.  Financial profiting would happen through appearances, athlete-owned brands, giving autographs, camps and clinics, group licensing, in-kind deals, instruction, product endorsements, promotional activities and social media. 

Profits could also be made in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are assets that have been tokenized via a blockchain. They are assigned unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from other tokens. NFTs can be traded and exchanged for money, cryptocurrencies, or other NFTs—depending on the value the market and owners have placed on them.

However, student-athletes would not be allowed to be affiliated with products like adult entertainment, gambling, controlled drug substances, alcohol and/or tobacco products to receive financial profits.

School personnel, including coaches and other athletics staff members, would not be permitted to use NIL to recruit athletes or encourage higher enrollment. Assisting with deals and acting as a student-athlete’s agent or marketing representative by school personnel and or athletics staff members would also be disallowed.

Athletes and their parents, coaches, athletics directors and principals, would be required to complete a National Federation of High Schools Association (NFHS) NIL Course each year. Additionally, all NIL deals would be required to be reported to the school and the NCHSAA.

If a student-athlete violates any of those NIL rules, he or she would be ineligible from any sports competition for 60 calendar days.

Avery County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman offered High Country Press the following statement about the possibility of North Carolina High School athletes getting paid through their NIL: “I am not really familiar with the details regarding this proposal. If passed, this would be very interesting, especially when other groups or students lobby for the same access to financial gain for their gifts and talents.”

High school athletes are gaining more attention because of social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok, which can result in many views for some student-athletes, depending on their success and stature.   

More states already allow high school athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. However, of the four states that border North Carolina– Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina– only Tennessee allows NIL deals for high school athletes.