Cashing in: Will Arizona be next to allow high school athletes to enter into NIL deals? – The Arizona Republic

Cashing in: Will Arizona be next to allow high school athletes to enter into NIL deals? - The Arizona Republic thumbnail

It’s starting to become a trend with nine states permitting high school athletes to enter into name, image and likeness endorsement deals like those allowed for college athletes since last July.

Will Arizona be next to at least consider it?

Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director David Hines says no.

But for how long? Will a parent with a promising young athlete who has the high-profile appeal to cash in now challenge the state’s high school governing organization?

“My coaches and I have been talking about this a lot lately and It is coming,” Peoria Sunrise Mountain football coach Steve Decker said in an email. “People can resist it.

“The AIA can resist it but it’s a right of athletes at all levels to be able to partake in this. I’m not saying I’m supporting it but it is definitely coming. I believe it’s the athletes’ rights.”

California was the first state’s organization to allow high school athletes to enter into NIL, as long as they don’t use the school’s insignia, name, logo, colors in their endorsements.

Louisiana two weeks ago was the latest state to enter into the NIL for high school athletes.

According to opendorse.com, these states permit NIL for high school athletes: California, New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Kansas, Alaska, Utah, Nebraska and Maine.

Rob Yowell, who has two college-age sons currently with NIL deals, represents brands engaged in NIL programs with college athletes, one involving former Arizona high school athletes.

“Too early IMO,” Yowell texted about whether high school athletes should be cashing in now, “but can’t deprive someone of capturing their moment of fame.

“I think if you take it in high school, you forfeit college and go straight to pro. At least college athletes, who are a little more mature and prove, have business infrastructure with sponsors, media, etc. HS not equipped.”

On3.com, a recruiting service, already is is putting an NIL value on college and high school athletes with three of the top five among high school athletes, led by the son of Los Angeles Lakers great LeBron James, Bronny James, a basketball player at Chatworth Sierra Canyon, No. 1 overall with a projected worth of $5.1 million.

Quarterback Arch Manning, the nephew of former NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, is the top prospect in the nation in the 2023 class out of New Orleans’ Isidore Newman High. He is rated the No. 2 overall football player in NIL value by On3 at $1.6 million. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young leads football players with a worth of $2.6 million.

On3 has Chandler 2024 quarterback Dylan Raiola the top overall rated quarterback in the nation for his class. He rates sixth overall in all high school football classes in NIL value at $144,000, which increased 50% recently after he had his Twitter account verified.

Raiola moved with his family from Texas, another state that doesn’t allow high school athletes to have NIL deals, at the end of December and already has scholarship offers from nearly every major college in the country. 

The AIA isn’t broaching this subject yet.

But what happens if a domino effect of states opening the door for high school NIL deals lands on Arizona and another piece falls? 

There already is a wide gap in Arizona between the haves and the have-not football programs.

As if transfers aren’t already a hot topic in high schools, there could be concern that boosters would get involved, luring athletes with endorsement deals.

The AIA really doesn’t want a recruiting door to open.

States with NIL for high school athletes have said that this would lead to forfeiture of the athlete’s eligibility if a transfer happened due to the NIL.

Will families with top athletes leave Arizona to a state that has NIL opportunities in order to cash in while in high school?

“Not everybody has the ability to move,” said Yowell, whose sons played at Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep. “Some kids are moving to states that allow it, because they’ve got an uncle or an aunt who lives in a state that allows it. The kid moves there, then he’s, let’s say, a resident in California, so he signs an NIL deal to play basketball, as opposed to staying in Arizona.

“Sadly, it’s Pandora’s box. It didn’t get implemented in the right way at the collegiate level. So now you’ve got free agency. You’ve got different rules for different states. The NCAA didn’t do anything to oversee this. They’re asking Congress to take it over, and they’re saying, ‘It’s not our problem.’ “

To suggest human-interest story ideas and other news, reach Obert at richard.obert@arizonarepublic.com or 602-316-8827. Follow him on Twitter @azc_obert.

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