ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — On Thursday, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's Legislative Council cleared the way for high school athletes to get paid for endorsement deals. Just a day later, two Anderson County students signed Name, Image and Likeness deals with local businesses.
NIL deals are a growing trend across the U.S. and this year, college athletes started signing them. The University of Tennessee even created a class where they could learn how to best leverage their personal brands and sign NIL deals with companies.
One of the Anderson County students who signed a deal was Chloe Freeman, a freshman on the cheerleading squad at Anderson County High School. She became the first female athlete in the state to sign an NIL deal at the high school level.
She signed it with a Tennessee insurance group and appeared in an advertisement for them, performing a backflip while saying, "as always, get a flip and quote from" the company. She is related to the owners of the company she signed the deal with.
"It's going to open more opportunities and more doors for me, hopefully," said Freeman.
The owner of the company said that he hoped the deal would help her build her brand and give her some money to be able to do what she wants, as she develops her career.
The assistant executive director of the TSSAA, Matthew Gillespie, also specified that students can sign brand deals with businesses as long as they are not wearing their school's logo.
"Now, student-athletes can get paid for doing things like running instructional clinics, for giving lessons," he said. "It is not a pay-for-play situation."
Tennessee is the 20th state in the U.S. to allow high school athletes to profit from NIL deals with businesses. Freeman said she also hopes to bring attention to a sport that she feels is often overlooked.
"It's crazy because I feel like cheerleaders are kind of lower down on the scale. But it feels like it's going to actually get us out there, kind of make us more credible," she said.
Nick Mook is the other Anderson County High School student who signed an NIL deal. He is a junior on the football team there.