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NIL opportunities may be coming for high school athletes in Michigan

Terry Lyons, MHSAA.com

The state of Michigan may allow high school athletes to profit from NIL deals soon.

The addition of NIL to collegiate sports now also brings the possibility for high school athletes to profit off their own name, image and likeness too. State governments around the country are deciding whether to allow NIL for high school athletes. A little over half the states currently passed laws allowing NIL for high schoolers, and Michigan may be the next state.

Rep. Jimmie Wilson Jr. of Ypsilanti proposed Bill 4816 in June, which brings forward NIL for high school athletes. There are many aspects of the bill that the Michigan Legislature will have to go over and that includes the basics of what athletes can and cannot have contracts with. One thing is about how high schoolers cannot legally enter into their own contract due to being minors. You have to be the age of 18 to legally sign your own contract.

“All high school student athletes that enter NIL contracts need parental consent and all contracts will be reviewed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. There are also provisions in the bill that certain types of contracts athletes couldn’t enter into like gambling, adult entertainment, firearms, control substances, and things like that,” said Wilson.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has cooperated with Wilson to review the bill..

“They (MHSAA) are open to it now. When we originally introduced the bill, they were opposed, and they highlighted those reasons why they were opposed. All the provisions they’ve added to the bill they reviewed from other states whether it was the pros or cons so this will be a very strong bill for high school NIL,” said Wilson.

A key to the MHSAA agreeing to the bill was making sure that all proposed NIL contracts have to be approved by them. Another thing the MHSAA wanted to ensure in the bill was that NIL opportunities are individual to athletes and the focus being on them.

“This bill does not allow for NIL possibilities enticing students to attend a certain school or performance-based awards. For example, paying a certain amount for every touchdown a student scored or three pointers made,” said the Director of Communications of the MHSAA Geoff Kimmerly.

The best high school athletes around the country have developed huge followings with the advancement of social media. For instance, one of the best high school basketball players in the state of Michigan, Trey McKenney, has over 17,000 followers on Instagram. Other high school athletes around the country have over hundreds of thousands of followers. This bill is made for the best athletes in the state and the MHSAA are not expecting to be overwhelmed with many deals.

“We have about 175,000 to 180,000 athletes in a given year and we don't anticipate more than 20 with any kind of NIL deal over the course of a school year. This is something that does not happen a lot at the high school level because there are not a ton of athletes with that kind of influence or following,” said Kimmerly.

Wilson and others want to keep the best athletes in the state of Michigan from leaving during their high school years. There have been times where athletes have left to explore other opportunities to be recruited and for more exposure. With Bill 4816, those athletes can stay in Michigan and be able to build their brand.

“Some high school athletes have already reached out to me over social media after hearing about the possibility of NIL and seeing some opportunities being missed. One told me that his family was considering moving to a state that allows it so when he found out about this he reached out asking about the bill and how he wanted to stay here. He was excited to hear about our progress,” said Wilson.

Bill 4816 must go through the Michigan Legislature just like any other bill. The bill has passed through the House of Representatives already with a 66-43 vote. The bill now moves onto the Senate and Wilson will testify on the bill just like he did to the Michigan House. If the bill passes the vote in the Senate, it will go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk to be signed and enacted.

“With other states around us starting to allow this, we hope this will now keep some of those top athletes in the state and give them an opportunity that they deserve,” said Wilson.

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