The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) made a significant move in the world of high school sports this week, paving the way for student-athletes to be paid for their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
During its board meeting on Wednesday, the PIAA approved on first reading a NIL policy that will allow high schoolers to profit off their image.
If passed, Pennsylvania would become the 13th state to allow high school athletes to receive NIL compensation.
The policy, which must have pass two more readings before becoming official, will give students to benefit financially from permissible activities such as commercial endorsements, promotional activities, social media and product or service advertisements.
Collegiate student-athletes were granted the ability to benefit from their name, image and likeness last year.
“I think it’s huge for young people, for student-athletes, and even young people that aren’t in the athletic realm,” said PIAA assistant executive director Melissa Mertz, according to York Dispatch.
“This age grouping is so into social media and having their image out there and being trendsetters and having lots and lots of followers. It really sets them up to where now they can receive possible compensation or consideration they weren’t able to receive previously.”
There are certain restrictions in place, such as athletes not being allowed to reference the PIAA, any member schools, or team names. They also can’t wear school uniforms, and aren’t permitted to endorse certain products, including adult entertainment, alcohol, controlled substances, opioids, casinos, gambling and weapons, firearms or ammunition.
Booster clubs, coaches and alumni are also unable to negotiate or pay for NIL deals.
The news was met with mixed responses, including multiple high school coaches questioning how the rules will be properly enforced.
“We have totally lost amateurism in sports,” Valley View football coach George Howanitz said, according to Yahoo. “There are so many layers to this for a coach. Who is going to police this? Are schools going to have to hire compliance people like they have at the collegiate level?
“I think it opens up a Pandora’s Box.”
With two readings still required to be officially passed, the policy likely won’t go into effect until 2023.
“My gut tells me that I didn’t like it at the college level and I certainly don’t like it at the high school level,” said North Pocono principal Ron Collins, who is the president of the Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association. “I think we are really going to blur the lines by paying high school athletes. I think it is a bad idea.
“To me, this is taking a bad idea and making a lot more work for school districts when we should be focusing on academics. This is something that is going to take away the focus of what we are there for, and that is education.”
There are currently 12 states that have NIL rights for high school student-athletes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota and Utah.
The PIAA says it will hire a company to educate athletes about tax laws and help them avoid being taken advantage of by companies.
“I am for that and it sounds pretty awesome,” Lakeland senior Lacota Dippre, a top college recruit in football, told Yahoo. “As long as you go through the right people and receive the right guidance, it could be good. But, you need people who are level-headed around you.”