From Buchholz High School athletics page. https://www.buchholzfootball.com/

Concern Expressed Amidst FHSAA First NIL Proposal

The Florida High School Athletic Association discussed the proposal of Name, Image and Likeness deals for high school athletes at Monday’s board meeting in Gainesville.

Background of NIL Proposal

The FHSAA board meeting’s agenda lists the NIL as a discussion item. This means that no vote or action will take place.

Florida is in the minority of states that still prohibit its student-athletes to sign NIL deals.

Something the board is meant to keep in mind going into the discussion is Florida’s laxed transfer regulations. Compared to stricter states like Georgia, who just became the 3oth state to approve NIL deals back in October.

The proposal reads that a student-athlete who transfers during the season to another member school will be ineligible to secure an NIL agreement during that season. Unless, that student has a good cause of exemption granted by the FHSAA.

Florida’s proposal will have similarities with other state’s, in that students can sign NIL agreements, but can not post certain things like the school’s uniform or logo and equipment. The proposal also outlines the disciplinary actions that would take place if a student broke the rules of their agreement.

The Meeting

Craig Damon, the executive director of FHSAA, summed up his concerns about the future of NIL for high school student-athletes.

When asked what worries him about high school NIL payouts, his response was “Unknowns.”

“Our biggest concern is transfers,” Damon said. “Will this increase the already large number of transfers we have in the state of Florida. That’s definitely a fear.”

That fear comes from the risk of potential law suits brought on by the rules put in place for transfer students- students can not accept NIL money within the first year of their transfer.

There is an estimated 2,500 athletes statewide transferring during this school year.

Willie Powers’ Perspective

Students aren’t the only ones affected by signing a NIL deal. Even before the agenda of the board meeting was released, coaches have known FHSAA discussing NIL deals was coming sooner or later. According to P.K. Yonge’s women’s basketball coach, Willie Powers, all you can do now is prepare.

“In women’s sports, the problem now is economics,” Powers said. “We don’t make enough at the gate right now to cover officials. So, how are we going to set up funds for players or this player or that player? It causes a lot of problems.”

Powers said the already existing conflict between parents would just escalate following NIL deals for student-athletes.

“You see friction already between parents because this kid got more rebounds than this kid or this kid has more points than this kid,” he said. “Can you only imagine one kid making $50 a week, and this kid making $2,000 a month?”

With an everchanging roster due to the “transfer portal,” the proposition of adding NIL deals onto their plate is “just another piece that coaches have to look at,” Powers said.

What Chuck Bell Has to Say

Buchholz football coach Chuck Bell had similar feelings as Powers when it comes to how the NIL deals would affect coaches.

“It’s going to be one more thing that you add to a high school coaches’ plate,” Bell said. “That continues to make our jobs harder and harder.

“Not only am I going to be out and trying to find the annual sponsorships that we need and our program needs to function, but it’s going to be ‘Should I ask this person for a sponsorship or should this person be somebody that maybe helps in NIL form.”

Bell explained that as a head coach,  sponsorships are what the program needs.

Among the other worries Bell says he has, one of them is the regulation and implementation aspect of NIL at the high school level.

“The regulating it and the monitoring it at the college level is still not there,” Bell said. “I don’t think you can find anybody that says ‘Man, this NIL thing is going great!”

Bell makes it clear he only has his player’s best interests in mind.

“How does a program continue to generate sponsorships for what the program needs while balancing the needs of what it might take to keep some of your players happy, and to keep some of your players in your program?” Bell said.

“You’re constantly recruiting players and making sure that your own players know that this is a place for them and that the plans are in place for them to succeed and to flourish.”

What’s Next?

There are several components of the FHSAA proposal to revise. Including amendments regarding NIL within the FHSAA’s existing bylaws on amateurism.

The FHSAA will further continue to gather information. It will present its findings in a NIL workshop scheduled for April 21, a day before the association’s next board meeting.

 

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