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TSSAA clears way for high school athletes to capitalize on NIL deals

The group's Legislative Council met today in Murfreesboro.

The organization that oversees Tennessee high school sports cleared the way Thursday morning for young athletes to get paid for endorsement deals.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Legislative Council met in Murfreesboro to review various proposed bylaw changes.

Joining a growing trend across the country, it agreed to amend TSSAA bylaws regarding what compensation amateur high school athletes can receive.

Under the change approved Thursday, students will be able to "receive payment for activities not related to performance provided that they are carried out in a manner that does not suggest or reasonably suggest the endorsement or sponsorship of the TSSAA school."


California and Louisiana are among numerous states that have shifted to allow high school athletes to capitalize on what are called name, image and likeness, or NIL, deals with businesses and sponsors.

NIL this year has become the norm across college campuses in the United States, including at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Hendon Hooker and Jalin Hyatt are just some of the players who have signed deals this fall.

 UT, in fact, teaches young athletes in a course how to prepare for NIL deals and how to enhance their own brands.

So far, experts say, the typical deal for area college athletes has amounted to perhaps a few hundred dollars, not thousands and thousands.

According to the TSSAA, the proposed change Thursday already had been discussed in November with school administrators from across the state's grand divisions. 

In making the change, the TSSAA noted Thursday: "The student’s activities for which they are compensated may not include an image or likeness of the student in a uniform, or other clothing or gear depicting the name or logo of the TSSAA member school the student is attending or has attended."

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