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Is Junior year the new Senior Year for High School Athletes?


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Albin Oldner Law, PLLC
Published on August 6, 2021

How the Texas Name, Image, and Likeness Law and Texas’ UIL Rules Impact High School Athletes

With no law protecting high school athletes’ rights to profit off his or her name image, and likeness (hereinafter “NIL”), it may be financially beneficial for students to forgo their senior year of high school and enroll in college early. For example, Quinn Ewers from Southlake Carroll High School has just announced he will skip his senior year of high school and enroll at The Ohio State University to take advantage of the new NIL rules in the NCAA. This is because the Texas’ UIL rules and the new Texas NIL law prohibit high school athletes from profiting from their NIL. More specifically, Section J of the State law states no individual, corporate entity, or other organization may enter into any arrangement with a “prospective student athlete relating to the prospective student athlete’s name, image, likeness prior to their enrollment in an institution of higher education.”. With this general language Texas UIL has stated that the Legislature generally prohibited agreements that would provide for high school athletes to profit from their NIL prior to their enrollment in an institution of higher education. What the law does not state is what makes a student a “prospective student athlete”? Does this mean that a high school athlete who participates in modeling outside of school, but also plays high school volleyball can no longer profit off his or her image and likeness? The answers to these questions can impact the high school athlete’s ability to play sports not only at a high school level, but also at a collegiate level.  

In addition to the State law,  the Texas UIL amateur rule under Section 441 states:

The amateur rule starts the first-class day of a student’s ninth grade year and is in continuous effect during the school year and summer months until all athletic competitions are completed in the 12th grade. The student at all times (whether in school or outside school) shall abide by the letter and intent of amateurism, as set forth in this section. Schools are charged with the responsibility of informing students of all applicable subsections of this rule and enforcing this rule. Administrators and coaches must ensure that athletes receive only services specifically permitted by written rule. Any breach of the rule undermines the educational goals of interscholastic athletics.

High school athletes need to be extremely careful with how they manage the opportunities they may have and understand what they can and cannot do with their NIL.  Many high school athletes may see the NIL craze on social media and think they can also profit off their NIL and accidently create a situation where they are now not eligible to play high school sports or college sports. It is for this very reason Mr. Ewers decided to forego his senior year of high school and enroll in college early allowing him to begin profiting off his NIL without impacting his ability to continue to play football.  We will likely start seeing many high school athletes graduating high school early to avoid these complicated NIL rules and avoid becoming ineligible to play. To learn more about how these NIL rules and laws may impact your high school athlete please contact us at (214) 225-9138.  For more information please also see. 

https://www.uiltexas.org/policy/2021-22-policy-info/nil-information

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