How will NIL impact local high school athletes?

Published 9:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

Name Image and Likeness (NIL) deals are coming to high school sports in the state of Georgia. The Georgia High School Association voted to pass NIL in a meeting on Monday and the state of Georgia now becomes the latest of over 30 states to adopt NIL principles for its high school athletes.

All this begs the question, what sort of impact will it have on the Troup County community?

“Our community needs to be ready,” LaGrange High athletic director Mike Pauley said. “We know what GHSA is saying, but now we need to find out what the LaGrange and Troup County community is saying about it.”

This puts more responsibilities on 14, 15, and 16-year old kids, but also numerous other people — parents, coaches and athletic directors just to name a few.

Athletic directors will now be in charge of making sure that everybody in the athletic realm is aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls of NIL.

“There will be unintentional things that happen from this, and we want to make sure that it does not ruin the integrity of what we trying to with raising kids and protecting kids,” Pauley said. “We don’t even know what all those negative things are yet.”

Most are in agreement that the potential negatives from this deal will mostly be unintended, but once the genie is out of the bottle, it will not go back in.

“It is probably a case where the haves have more while the have nots won’t see much change,” said Troup athletic director Andrew Calhoun. “There are going to be teams that have deep pockets and they are going to exploit, and there are teams that will not be able to do those types of things.”

“We want to make sure this is not perceived aa a pay to play type of thing in sports,” Pauley said. 

The new guidelines state that an NIL deal cannot be “contingent on specific athletic performance or achievement” or “provided as an incentive to enroll or remain enrolled at a specific school.” 

With over 30 other  states having passed NIL for high school athletes, there have already been accusations of NIL affecting where athletes play in high school. Calhoun believes that people finding the loopholes will be inevitable and believes it will be a bigger issue in bigger cities.

“I think in metro areas where you literally have just a street separating you from going to one school over another it will be easier to move across the street,” Calhoun said. “Here where you have to pick up and move miles away it doesn’t seem as quick and easy.”

The new rule also includes a prohibition on athletes utilizing school logos, names, uniforms and any other team apparel. 

These are truly uncharted waters for all those involved. This is why most involved in the voting process wanted to get out ahead of the curve while there is still a chance.

“This is an opportunity to walk into this and get ahead of the game,” Pauley said. “We want to honor kids and their families.”

While the major benefactor from this new rule will likely be football players, the opportunity to get others involved in the NIl process is a big point for Calhoun.

“I’m really excited for our female athletes to make money of their name, image and likeness,” he said. “I think it is a great opportunity for them to earn some money, and help them pay for travel sports or other expenses that come with playing sports.”

The new rules will go into effect in 2024, and the long-term impacts will likely not be felt until the years to come. 

Callaway athletic director Pete Wiggins was contacted but had no comments on the new NIL deal.