FHSAA approves high school students making NIL money

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida High School Athletic Association on Tuesday approved rules to allow high school students to make money from their name, image and likeness, commonly known as NIL.

As Hillsborough High School’s head football coach Earle Garcia prepares to coach his 51st season of football, he hopes Tuesday’s decision doesn’t have a negative impact.

“The fabric of college athletics has completely changed,” he said. “I hope this doesn’t do this to high school athletics.”

“It’s the last place where amateur athletics can be amateur athletics, where a kid can be a kid,” he said.

For athletes like Karter Knox, Tuesday’s vote is a gamechanger.

Knox played for Tampa Catholic through his junior year of high school.

At the time, Florida wasn’t allowing student athletes to accept NIL deals, so Knox moved to Georgia where he played for Overtime Elite Academy his senior year, making $1 million.

His father, Kevin Knox, said bringing those NIL opportunities to Florida is overdue.

“As an example, you have some people, families who their income together as a family might be $100,000,” he said. “Mom and dad both making 50 and 50. Now, all of the sudden you have your son who is able to make $300,000. How is that not a good thing for the family?”

The approval is pending ratification by the State Board of Education on July 24. A majority of other states already allow NIL for high school athletes.

The rules allow students to make NIL money as long as they aren’t promoting adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons, or political or social activism, among other things.

NIL agreements may also not extend past a student’s high school graduation date, and schools, their districts, and their governing bodies are released from any liability related to the agreement.

Students may also not appear in any school attire or uniforms, or reference their schools, in any promotional material, unless they’re granted written permission from the school, district, or its governing body.

Parents would be involved in any deals involving students under the age of 18, according to Alex Mendez, a former USF baseball player and an attorney in Tampa.

“The parents are involved because a 15-year-old, a 16-year-old handling any money at that age, you get very excited,” he said. “There’s going to be some form of financial literacy and financial courses to give them the background as to what’s a good decision.”

Mendez praised the FHSAA’s decision saying, “I think NIL is, one, incredible.”

“It wasn’t there when I was at USF playing baseball and my wife and sister-in-law played softball,” he said. “We didn’t have those opportunities.”

“NIL opens up opportunities for high school student athletes to really have the potential to have financial backing when they go to college,” Mendez said.

Schools are prohibited from offering money to students and using NIL for recruiting purposes. Schools violating the policy may face discipline.

Any student who violates the NIL rules will be given a warning the first time and may have to change or terminate the agreement and return any compensation or gifts. A second offense would result in the student being ineligible for one year. A third offense would result in ineligibility for the student’s entire high school term.

Students who transfer schools after starting a sport are ineligible from entering an NIL agreement for that season, unless the student meets one of the provisions in the transfer policy.

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