College sports are undergoing a major shift, all because of one important question: Should college athletes be paid? In June 2021, the NCAA responded by implementing an interim policy on name, image and likeness, or NIL, allowing student-athletes to make money from their personal brand. However, it can be a bit complex to navigate.
NIL laws vary by state, meaning your state may or may not have its own NIL regulations you must adhere to. Whether high school students can participate in NIL activities depends on the rules set by your state’s high school sports association. Additionally, colleges and universities often have their own unique rules for NIL.
Our guide aims to simplify NIL rules for high school athletes and parents involved in the recruiting process. Understanding what’s allowed and what’s not can ensure your eligibility for college sports and maximize your potential for future NIL opportunities.
Name, image and likeness (or NIL) are the three elements that make up “right of publicity”, a legal concept used to prevent or allow the use of an individual to promote a product or service. For example, if an athlete’s photograph is taken while wearing an athletic brand, and that brand uses the photo to promote their products without the athlete’s consent, that athlete could claim the brand is in violation of the right of publicity.
The right of publicity is generally used to protect against the misuse of an individual’s name, image and likeness for commercial promotion. However, the NCAA has been scrutinized for years, as critics say the NCAA takes advantage of student-athletes by using their name, image and likeness for profit, while not allowing the athletes to cash in, as well.
The NCAA’s interim policy, which was passed in June 2021, has three main parts:
Student-athletes should report NIL activities consistent with state law or school and conference requirements to their school.
With the NCAA changing the existing NIL rules to begin allowing athletes the right to profit from the use of their own name, image and likeness, here are a few examples of what student-athletes could now be paid for:
NIL is an exciting opportunity for both college and high school athletes, but before you dive into name, image and likeness deals as a high school student, there are some important things to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to start preparing early and understand how NIL could impact your path to college.
To understand your NIL rights, regularly check the following sources:
States are introducing their own laws and policies related to NIL, and as a result, the regulations governing name, image and likeness deals can vary based on where you live or the college you attend. Different states have distinct rules regarding what athletes can endorse and when they can start engaging in these opportunities.
In states with active NIL laws, college athletes can earn money following both state and school rules. In states without such laws, the college sets the guidelines for NIL activities.
We’ve gathered data from the Business of College Sports NIL Tracker (last updated July 2023) to provide you with a state-by-state overview of the NIL laws impacting college student-athletes. We’ll ensure this information stays current as NIL regulations evolve.
|State||NIL Law Status|
|Alabama||Repealed / Suspended|
|Arizona||Signed into law|
|Arkansas||Signed into law; Amended April 2023|
|California||Signed into law|
|Colorado||Signed into law|
|Connecticut||Signed into law|
|Delaware||Signed into law|
|District of Columbia (D.C.)||Legislation proposed October 2021|
|Florida||Signed into law|
|Georgia||Signed into law|
|Illinois||Signed into law; Amended May 2022|
|Kentucky||Signed into law|
|Louisiana||Signed into law|
|Maine||Signed into law|
|Maryland||Signed into law|
|Michigan||Signed into law|
|Mississippi||Signed into law; Amended April 2022|
|Missouri||Signed into law; Amended May 2022 and July 2023|
|Montana||Signed into law|
|Nebraska||Signed into law|
|Nevada||Signed into law|
|New Hampshire||Legislation proposed|
|New Jersey||Signed into law|
|New Mexico||Signed into law|
|New York||Signed into law; Amended July 2023|
|North Carolina||Signed into law|
|Ohio||Signed into law|
|Oklahoma||Signed into law; Amended May 2023|
|Oregon||Signed into law|
|Pennsylvania||Signed into law|
|Rhode Island||Legislation proposed|
|South Carolina||Signed into law|
|Tennessee||Signed into law; Amended April 2022|
|Texas||Signed into law; Amended June 2023|
|Virginia||Signed into law|
|West Virginia||Legislation proposed|
High school sports associations are currently navigating the complexities of name, image and likeness. Unlike college student-athletes, high school athletes have stricter limitations and may not be able to capitalize on their school’s logo or name. The opportunities for high school athletes to make money from their NIL vary depending on the rules set by their specific association.
Below is access to state-by-state rules and regulations for each high school association.
|State||NIL High School||High School Association|
|Alabama||Prohibited||Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA)|
|Alaska||Permitted||Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA)|
|Arizona||Prohibited||Arizona Interscholastic Association|
|Arkansas||Under Consideration||Arkansas Activities Association (AAA)|
|California||Permitted||California Interscholastic Federation|
|Colorado||Permitted||Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA)|
|Connecticut||Permitted||Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC)|
|Delaware||Under Considerations||Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association|
|District of Columbia (D.C.)||Permitted||District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA)|
|Florida||Prohibited||Florida High School Athletic Association|
|Georgia||Under Consideration||Georgia High School Association (GHSA)|
|Hawaii||Prohibited||Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA)|
|Idaho||Permitted||Idaho High School Activities Association (IHSAA)|
|Illinois||Permitted||Illinois High School Association (IHSA)|
|Indiana||Under Considerations||Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA)|
|Iowa||Permitted||Iowa High School Athletic Association & Iowa Girls High School Athletic|
|Kansas||Permitted||Kansas State High School Activities Association|
|Kentucky||Prohibited||Kentucky High School Athletic Association|
|Louisiana||Permitted||Louisiana High School Athletic Association|
|Maine||Permitted||Maine Principals’ Association|
|Maryland||Permitted||Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association|
|Massachusetts||Permitted||Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association|
|Michigan||Under consideration||Michigan High School Athletic Association|
|Minnesota||Permitted||Minnesota State High School League|
|Mississippi||Prohibited||Mississippi High School Activities Association|
|Missouri||Prohibited||Missouri State High School Activities Association|
|Montana||Under Consideration||Montana High School Association|
|Nebraska||Permitted||Nebraska School Activities Association|
|Nevada||Permitted||Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association|
|New Hampshire||Permitted||New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association|
|New Jersey||Permitted||New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association|
|New Mexico||Prohibited||New Mexico Activities Association|
|New York||Permitted||New York State Public High School Athletic Association|
|North Carolina||Permitted||North Carolina High School Athletic Association|
|North Dakota||Permitted||North Dakota High School Activities Association|
|Ohio||Prohibited||Ohio High School Athletic Association|
|Oklahoma||Permitted||Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association|
|Oregon||Permitted||Oregon School Activities Association|
|Pennsylvania||Permitted||Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association|
|Rhode Island||Permitted||Rhode Island Interscholastic League|
|South Carolina||Prohibited||South Carolina High School League|
|South Dakota||Under Consideration||South Dakota High School Activities Association|
|Tennessee||Permitted||Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association|
|Texas||Under Consideration||Texas University Interscholastic League|
|Utah||Permitted||Utah High School Activities Association|
|Vermont||Prohibited||Vermont Principals Association|
|Virginia||Permitted||Virginia High School League|
|Washington||Permitted||Washington Interscholastic Activities Association|
|West Virginia||Prohibited||West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission|
|Wyoming||Under Consideration||Wyoming High School Activities Association|
Insider Tip: We highly recommend that you reach out to your high school athletic director or contact your high school association before engaging with NIL deals as a high school student. They will be able to provide you with the necessary guidance and most up-to-date information specific to your state’s association.
Yes, each individual school has oversight of NIL deals and the right to object to a deal if it conflicts with existing agreements. Some schools are turning to companies like Opendorse and INFLCR, which offer platforms for athletes to upload their NIL contracts for the compliance department to review and approve.
Athletes are expected to understand their school’s NIL policy and keep their school informed of all NIL arrangements. The best way to ensure student-athletes understand school-specific NIL rules is to work directly with their school’s compliance department or their coaches. Check here for a list of institutions with NIL rules and regulations in place.
Similar to states, colleges/universities and conferences, national governing bodies are beginning to create their own NIL guidelines for student-athletes to retain their amateur status. The first national governing body to address the new NIL policy is USGA. The association released their own set of guidelines that highlighted three requirements for student-athletes to remain amateur golfers.
Below is access to the rules and regulations of sport-specific national governing bodies.
US Amateur Basketball
USA Field Hockey
USA Ice Hockey
USA Water Polo
Moving forward, student-athletes interested in monetizing their NIL will need to ask questions about NIL rules when talking with coaches. Before speaking with a coach, prospective student-athletes should create a list of questions about the NIL rules that would impact them. Below are a few suggested questions:
Student-athletes looking to monetize on their NIL will need help securing deals. While there are many companies that have been working with professional athletes for years that will offer their services to college athletes, there are a number of new companies that have recently launched specifically to help collegiate athletes. To learn about some of these new brands, check out the NIL Network’s coverage on digital marketplaces, as well as the BCS tracker which offers a running list of marketplaces.
The NCAA intends to work with federal congressional legislators to replace the interim policy with a single nationwide policy, but there is no timeline on when that might happen. For now, athletes should continue to adhere to NIL rules set in their specific state. NCSA will continue to monitor changes as they relate to NIL laws and provide updates to the team, when necessary.
For student-athletes looking for additional resources covering NIL updates on an ongoing basis, check out the weekly NIL Network podcast, Fi-Nil-ly.
NIL stands for name, image and likeness, which primarily pertains to student-athletes in college sports.
NIL refers to the rights of college athletes to control and profit from their name, image and likeness. In the past, these rights were restricted by the NCAA, but recent policy changes now allow athletes to monetize their personal brand and endorsements while participating in college sports.
Effective July 1, 2021, the NCAA approved name, image, and likeness policy allows student-athletes to monetize their NIL. However, no federal legislation or specific NCAA NIL rules have been established. NIL activities and restrictions vary from state to state and school to school, which means student-athletes must understand both sets of rules before entering into any NIL agreements.
A NIL deal is an agreement or arrangement between a student-athlete and a third party, such as a brand, company or individual, where the student-athlete receives compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness.
NIL collectives are support networks for college athletes where donors pool together money to compensate athletes for their name, image and likeness. These independent organizations generate NIL deals for athletes at specific schools while operating separately from the schools themselves.