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MSHSL Board approves NIL policy for students

The new policy comes a year after the NCAA adopted a NIL policy of its own, providing students the opportunity to to be compensated while maintaining amateur status.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — The Minnesota State High School League board approved a policy for student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) while maintaining amateur status.

The new policy comes a year after the NCAA adopted a NIL policy of its own, providing student-athletes the opportunity to earn money from sponsorship and endorsement deals.

Like the NCAA's policy, there are specific regulations student-athletes must follow to comply with the new policy, including:

  • The compensation is not contingent on specific athletic performance or achievement (e.g., financial incentives based on points scored). 
  • The compensation (or prospective compensation) is not provided as an inducement to attend a particular school (“recruiting”) or to remain enrolled at a particular school. 
  • The compensation is commensurate with market value. 
  • The compensation is not provided by the school or an agent of the school (e.g., booster club, foundation, etc.). 
  • NIL activities must not interfere with a student-athlete’s academic obligations. 
  • A student must not miss athletic practice, competition, travel, or other team obligations in order to participate in an NIL opportunity. 

After the NCAA announced its new policy, it didn't take long for student-athletes to start cashing in. Paige Bueckers, who was a standout guard at Hopkins High School, was the first NCAA athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Gatorade, once the NCAA announced the new policy. 

Bueckers is now a star on the UConn women's basketball team, and recently announced a partnership with Chegg — a learning platform for college kids — to bring awareness for food insecurity among college students.

“I’m thrilled to become Chegg’s first student athlete brand ambassador and for this opportunity to help in the fight against food insecurity which affects too many of my peers and 12 million kids in the U.S.," Bueckers said in a statement. "While this is the first of several projects in schools with Goodr, it was really important to use the momentum we have around the tournament to raise awareness on the issue and support my hometown of Minneapolis during such an important weekend for our game."

Minnesota native Sunisa Lee was able to capitalize on the gold medal she won in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, while leading the Auburn gymnastics team as a freshman.

“Even without the NIL, I knew I wanted to go to college anyway just because I had to come find my love for the sport again,” Lee told the Associated Press earlier this year. “I had to get out of the elite world just because it is so different. This is so much more fun, and having the team be so supportive.”

One of the biggest concerns when the NCAA adopted the new NIL policy was its impact with recruiting, and "pay-for-play" contracts, which are specifically addressed in the new MSHSL policy.

"This policy governs students engaging in commercial activities using their NIL. This includes any situation where a student-athlete promotes or endorses a product or service in exchange for a fee, or otherwise generates income through the use of their NIL, regardless of whether the activities relate to athletics," the draft statement reads. "'Pay for play' (receiving payments simply for being a student-athlete) and improper recruiting inducements remain prohibited."

The new policy also outlaws the use of MSHSL or school logos in any NIL activity, or any references to the students' involvement with the school or activity. Students also will not be able to promote anything involving gambling, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis or any other banned or illegal substances. If a student violates the policy, they could lose their eligibility in one or more activities.

Several other states across the country, including New York and California, have adopted NIL policies for high school students, prompting the debate in many more states. It's unclear when the new MSHSL NIL policy will go into effect.

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