NIL deals may soon enter the halls of Ohio's K-12 Schools


Next month, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) is submitting to its member schools a series of proposed constitution and bylaw changes, one of which would allow students to continue participating in Ohio High School Athletic Association sanctioned sports while also entering into Name Image and Likeness (NIL) contracts.

Citing “the action taken by the general assembly regarding collegiate NIL contracts and the overall shift of opinions surrounding this issue,” OHSAA has proposed language that, if passed, would significantly amend the Association’s existing “amateurism” bylaw. 

As it currently stands, Bylaw 4-10 prohibits student-athletes from receiving compensation by virtue of their status as an amateur student-athlete in all but a handful of circumstances.  The proposed NIL bylaw would permit student-athletes to enter in an agreement using their name, image and likeness for commercial purposes provided specific conditions are met.  The conditions include:

  1. Prohibition on use of name, logos, mascots, trademarks or other proprietary properties of the OHSAA or an OHSAA member school during promotions.
  2. Prohibition of NIL marketing/endorsements during official team activities, including any contractual requirement to display sponsor’s product during official team activities.
  3. Prohibition of NIL contracts with student providing money, merchandise, other services of value, or any other benefits directly to the student athlete’s school/team.
  4. Prohibition of student athletes receiving NIL compensation for the promotion of casinos, gambling, alcohol, drug use, or tobacco use.
  5. Student athletes present all NIL contracts to the OHSAA member school where they are enrolled.  

In order for the bylaw to pass, a simple majority vote of OHSAA members is needed during the May referendum.  And, if it does pass, the bylaw will take immediate effect, meaning that student-athletes would be permitted to both enter into NIL agreements while also maintaining their student-athlete status. 

Aside from the obvious impacts, there are a number of other OHSAA bylaws that could be impacted, including the remainder of bylaw 4-10 and 5-1-1, which prohibits student-athletes in OHSAA-sanctioned sports from receiving awards and/or prizes in excess of $400 [1] in value, if the award is a direct result from participation in their sport. 

In anticipation of the passage of the new NIL bylaw, school districts must start preparing now for the additional administrative obligations that this will undoubtedly bring.  Now is the time to assess how and where student-athlete NIL agreements may impact your District.  Is your intellectual property portfolio clearly defined?  Who will be responsible for managing NIL contracts, and what level of detail will you require from student-athletes?  Are your conduct requirements capable of capturing student-athletes who do not follow the conditions outlined by OHSAA? 

A team of Bricker Education attorneys is continuously monitoring NIL developments. Please check here for the most up-to-date information on how NIL will impact your school district.

[1] The May referendum proposes to increase this amount to $500

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