NIL for High Schoolers Approved. Here’s What Okaloosa Coaches and Boosters Say:

In Brief:

  • Okaloosa County and other Florida high school athletes can now sign NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deals to earn money from endorsements, following a unanimous vote by the Florida High School Athletics Association Board.
  • The new NIL rules come with restrictions, including prohibitions on using school logos and certain types of endorsements, and aim to prevent the use of NIL as a recruiting tool.
  • Local coaches and boosters express mixed feelings about the changes, highlighting potential benefits for top athletes while raising concerns about the impact on team dynamics and the core values of high school sports.

Local Coaches and Boosters Talk About Benefits, Drawbacks for High School Sports

Okaloosa County High Schoolers and other high schoolers in Florida can now sign NIL deals.

NIL, which stands for Name Image and Likeness, allows college athletes (and now Florida high school athletes) to license their name, image, and likeness to companies for money to promote a brand or product.

The Florida High School Athletics Association Board, which governs high school sports in Florida, voted unanimously to allow players to earn money from playing high school ball.

According to On3 Sports, the college athlete with the largest NIL Valuation is Deion Sanders’ son, Shedeur Sanders. On3 values him at around $4.6 Million.

While Crestview or Niceville High School players are unlikely to make Sanders-levels of money, they still stand to make something—but there are restrictions.

The FHSAA says the athletes have to do the following.

  • Acknowledge, or have their guardians acknowledge, that they have released the FHSAA from liability for entering into the deal.
  • They have to hold their school harmless as well.

The FHSAA also says that the NIL Collectives that might want to capitalize on this opportunity must not include team fundraising but can include “groups organizations, or cooperative enterprises that exist to collect funds from donors and businesses to help facilitate NIL deals for student-athletes and create ways for athletes to monetize their NIL.”

RELATED: Here’s How Niceville Alums’ College Football Seasons Went.


However, only some things are permissible under this new agreement. The FHSAA says the deals cannot use the logos or otherwise use the “brands” of the FHSAA or the high schools the players play for, and they aren’t able to do deals with businesses that offer the following products or services:

  • Adult entertainment products or services
  • Alcohol, tobacco, vaping, or nicotine products
  • Cannabis
  • Controlled Substances
  • Prescription pharmaceuticals
  • Gambling, including sports betting, the lottery, and betting in connection with video games, on-line games, and mobile devices
  • Weapons, firearms and ammunition
  • Political or social activism
  • NIL Collectives, which are organizations independent of the schools, raise money and then give it to the players as part of the schools’ agreement with the players.

School employees, athletic department staff members, or other representatives of the school’s athletic interests (this includes the student-athlete and their parents, the parents or guardians of any other athletic participant at that school, the immediate relatives of a coach or other member of the athletic department, a volunteer with the athletic program, a member of the athletic booster organization at the school, as well as any “person, business, organization, or group that makes financial or in-kind contributions to the athletic department or that is otherwise involved in promoting the school’s interscholastic athletic program.”

The rules also add that the NIL must not be used to recruit players. Yes, it says that.

Sanctions and ineligibility rulings will punish violations.

Coaches and Boosters: What NIL Means For Schools and Teams

The FHSAA Document that passed unanimously says NIL can’t become a recruiting tool, but Crestview Bulldogs Head Football Coach, Thomas Grant, says we only need to look to the past to see what will happen in the future. 

“We’re not going to sit here and say, ‘we’re going to put your family up an apartment or give them transportation.'” Grant said, “Other programs have done that in the area, like Arnold [High School], which got busted about ten years ago with A.D. Williams, who committed to Alabama. It’s been happening for years. But now, with [NIL], some people may be able to sleep better at night because they might justify it. It’s legal even though it is still not what it was meant to be.”

Grant, a Crestview High School graduate who played college football at Jacksonville State and a College in Oklahoma, says he’s seen dramatic changes in the landscape of high school football that, similar to NIL, have changed things to the athlete’s long-term detriment. “That’s what Kevin Durant and all the NBA guys have created,” Grant said – referencing the propensity for top players to join big teams together as a way to win championships.

RELATED: The Interview – Niceville Football Coach Grant Thompson

Still, we live in a brave new world. The FHSAA has changed the rules, and that means coaches like Grant will have to adapt to compete. Grant says he’ll put team rules in place to ensure the benefits, which will really only benefit a few premier programs around the state, are team benefits.

“Your big-time players and your national recruits might get some money. But as far as the local guys, it’ll be a meal here, a car wash there,” Grant said.

Some local boosters would like to be more excited about a High School NIL. “I don’t think it’s a day to be celebrated, I’ll put it that way,” said Niceville Quarterback Club member and local attorney Mike Flowers, “It’s nuanced – we’ve gotta be careful.”

Flowers has spent much of his free time supporting Niceville High School’s athletic endeavors and believes the wins are good. Still, he thinks the character development of future citizens is the reason for having high school sports in the first place.

RELATED: This is Florida’s College Football Team – Based on the Data

He asked rhetorically whether or not it’d be okay if my son were to get a couple of bucks from the Wendy’s on John Sims Parkway to sign autographs on a Saturday in his jersey. “What’s the downside to that?” Flowers asked. He says the issue centers more on the difficulty of putting together a team and teaching values when kids get different rewards for talent instead of teamwork. “I have friends in Georgia, which had this change last year,” Flowers said. He noted that those friends told him that not all that much changed to the outside observer. But, ” if it becomes semi-professional athletics, maybe we’re missing out on the bigger mission. That would be a fear that I would have at this level. You know what, what’s next, little league?” Flowers added.

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