New Week = Another Great Question!!
I've been receiving a lot of questions since the start of Doc's Dose of NIL which I'll continue to work to serve each week, but I had a great one in the comments last week about wanting to learn more about about specific NIL deals happening at the high school level, which is something I outline and show within my NIL presentations, so it seemed fitting to dig in a bit more right away!
Below I've outlined 9 high school student-athletes from around the country who have engaged in NIL deals, and provided some quick context regarding their impact on the forward progression of NIL at the High School level.
*Please note this is just a small snapshot of what's happening nationally in a space that is continually evolving at a rapid pace.
Additionally ---> One last reminder, as I think I was asked 3 times again this week the following question:
Wait, NIL is legal for high school student athletes?
Yes, yes it is.
Well at least currently in 26 states that is.
(You can check out an updated map here ---> https://ecckersports.com/resource-hub/)
While this continues to move quickly across the country, there are many students who are currently, or preparing to capitalize on their ability to monetize their NIL in many different ways.
Too often we view NIL from the lens of the 2% that we see on TV publicized at the college realm.
The large brand sponsorships.
But, there are a lot of additional types of NIL opportunities that are occurring with the other 98% that get lost in translation, and don't garner as much publicity.
We'll take a look at both, specifically within the High School Space.
#1 - JADEN RASHADA - California
If you've been interested in NIL and following key events as of late in college football, you've most likely heard of what's been happening with Jaden and his recruitment with Florida (and now the release of his National Letter of Intent). The majority of this recent publicity has been around NIL gone wrong, and the potential impact of collectives and high level high school recruits.
Long story short - Jaden Rashada is listed as the No. 27 recruit in the 2023 class, who had originally signed with Florida but recently asked for a release from his National Letter of Intent.
Rashada started his high school athletic career at Brentwood Liberty HS (California), then transferred to IMG Academy in Florida, and transferred again back to California where he recently finished his career at Pittsburg High School.
While he originally committed to Miami in the summer of 2022, he flipped that commitment to Florida a few months later due to an apparent $13 million dollar NIL deal from the Florida Gator Collective (we'll get to Collectives in a later Volume).
While he had planned to early enroll at the beginning of January, Rashada requested a release after it was reported the NIL deal had fallen through. There's a lot to unpack with this entire situation, including whether this type of NIL Collective deal violates the NCAA's current "pay for play" prohibition, but it's important to note that not only are student-athletes signing NIL deals while in High School, there is also a large development of NIL deals being created for "when they get to campus".
One example of an NIL deal that Jaden signed while at Pittsburg HS was with a football recruiting app named AIR (Athletes in Recruitment).
AIR signed him to a four-figure endorsement deal, while stating he was the first high school football player to secure a deal in the NIL space.
As you'll notice when states pass new NIL regulations at the High School level, many companies (and student-athletes) take note and want to be the "first movers".
In the case of AIR and Rashada, the founder and CEO James Sackville stated,
"Hey, we're going to be first movers in everything that we do. It was legal. It wasn't a matter of legality"
Now, before you start thinking Rashada is a bad guy, or saying, "this is ruining sports", etc... he also has an NIL deal with Safeway, where the money he earns goes to the homeless of the greater Pittsburg community. He has a long track record of community service engagement, especially with the homeless and underserved population, and works extremely hard to give back and make an impact.
But that is often lost in today's reporting world of "Oh my goodness, this collective is offering how much for that kid to come to this school?".
Which technically is a violation anyway. (That is If the NCAA enforced their regulations).
#2 - Xamiya Walton - Illinois
Xamiya hails from the state of Illinois and what's interesting to note here is that Illinois did not explicitly allow NIL during this time period when she moved forward, and there were quite a few limits regarding the ability of a student to monetize in any way.
Xamiya, a Butler College Prep student athlete from the Chicago area, and the first to garner an NIL deal in the state of Illinois, had to seek state approval for the proposed NIL deal she was considering.
After months of discussions with the Illinois State Athletic Association, Xamiya was granted approval to move forward with an NIL deal with Shoot-A-Way, a training device that allows players to practice on their own.
While you might ask - "Well how did she make it happen?"
After the continued conversations, it was agreed upon that Xamiya was free to endorse Shoot-A-Way for compensation, but she could not mention or have any of her high school teams brand, or the IHSA, in the ads. Instead, she used her AAU affiliation with the Mac Irvin Lady Fire.
A key staple of almost all High School State Athletic Association NIL regulations surrounds the fact that a student-athlete MAY NOT utilize the marks, logo, names, facilities, etc. of
their high school or the state association.
Student-athletes like Xamiya continue push NIL progression, causing a ripple effect within state associations across the country leading to many considering the evolution of their respective amateurism / NIL policies, and whether or not their state's regulations already allow NIL in some capacity.
#3 - Kaitlyn Hanna - Nebraska
Kaitlyn comes from a sport that often doesn't get a lot of NIL publicity, especially at the High School level.
A current freshman at the University of Iowa and a member of their golf team, Kaitlyn graduated from Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. During her senior year at Westside, she inked an NIL deal with Westin Foods and Superberries.
The contract between Superberries and Hanna included social media promotions as well as business mentoring for her company, Tee Art Creations.
What's really cool about this NIL deal is the exchange of services doesn't always have to be tied to financial outlay in the common sense.
Now is she getting paid with cash? I don't know, I can't speak to that.
But, she's getting support and mentorship for her entrepreneurial pursuits with Tee Art, a blossoming business that has incredible promise.
Learn more about what she's doing here ---> https://www.teeartcreations.com/
Additionally, when you read the comments from the CEO of Westin Foods and Superberries on the why behind the deal, it solidifies the positive impact this can have, and also the understanding that it's not just about the star quarterback or 1000 point scorer.
"It’s an opportunity for a business to get to know a winner, somebody that is doing something in high school-- it all starts in high school.
Kaitlyn has given back since her early days. She started a girls golf camp. She’s an A student. She’s a great golfer.
I mean what’s not to like about Kaitlyn Hanna."
As I tell all the school districts I consult with, let's face it, every school has a Kaitlyn Hanna... and to be honest, we'd love more of them!
And as a golf lover, how cool are these things she's making?!?!
I see a Triple Threat Leadership Sign in the future!
#4 - Chloe Freeman - Tennessee
Tennessee became the 20th state to make the shift to allow NIL at the high school level just this past November. Interestingly enough, it actually occurred during the time that I happened to be in Nashville presenting on NIL at the National Athletic Director's Conference.
That week seemed to be like wildfire for High School NIL with a few other states joining the approval ranks, so while I was up late doing some research and updating a few things, I came across an article regarding two high school student athletes in Anderson County (TN) that had just signed NIL deals a day after the new regulations had been approved.
Now here's where I think this is important....
Currently right now there are 24 states that DO NOT allow NIL at the High School level.
But, that doesn't mean that the student athletes, families, businesses and other stakeholders in those states aren't preparing for when that day arrives. And when it does arrive in most states, it comes fast and furious, often going into effect sometimes as soon as the day after the vote or approval process is completed by the State Athletic Association.
When I look at this NIL deal, to me ----> Chloe Freeman and Freeman Insurance Group were preparing, and all things to seem to point that they were already prepared to go.
Additionally, this is one of the few high school deals publicized that I've come across involving a High School gymnast (although most know that Olivia Dunne, a gymnast from LSU with over 3 million instagram followers is one of the most prominent college athletes in regards to NIL), and interestingly enough, Chloe also happens to be a high school Freshman.
When you mix in staking the claim of being the "first female student-athlete in Tennessee with an NIL contract" paired with a unique endorsement from an insurance firm based on "getting a FLIPPING quote from Freeman Insurance Group", you have the recipe for some air time (tv/news)...
As NIL continues to progress, we're starting to see the impact of creativity and unique opportunities and execution which I believe will continue to trickle down into the High School NIL space further.
It's also interesting to note that in the article it mentioned two student-athletes from Anderson County signing an NIL deal, one being Chloe and the other Nick Mook, a junior on the Anderson County High School Football team, but the details of his NIL agreement was not provided.
Why such a focus on Chloe in the article, and not Nick?
Not sure, but something to consider as I couldn't find much of anything about Nick or his deal when I did some digging.
#5 - Boo Carter - Tennessee
For #5 we are going to stay in the Volunteer State, but flip to focus on Boo Carter, a nationally ranked football recruit from Brainerd High School in Chattanooga, who claims to have garnered the"First National NIL Deal for ANY Tennessee High School Athlete."
He may not have been the first NIL deal for a Tennessee Student Athlete, but, he found a way to be unique in the space with the First "National" NIL Deal for a Tennessee HS SA.
Here's where some of this becomes a deeper marketing play, and in many states with newly approved NIL regulations, a desire to garner first mover publicity.
Chloe Freeman signed her NIL deal before Boo Carter, but because Boo signed a deal with SUCKERPUNCH Gourmet, a Pickle company outside of the state of Tennessee (Illinois to be exact), he is utilizing a narrative outlining that his deal goes beyond the boundaries of his home state and thus into the National environment.
While I was reading through the articles about Boo, I kept wondering "how did a football player from Chattanooga, Tennessee end up collaborating with a pickle company, let alone a pickle company from another state?"
To be honest, I still haven't uncovered that connection yet.
I'm assuming there is one in some capacity, or maybe he's really going at doing outreach to brands that he likes.
But as Boo said in an article by ESPN Chattanooga, he's approaching this from an educational standpoint.
“I believe it’s a really big deal for someone like me to have this chance in high school because I’ll be able to learn more about what to do and not to do once I get to college and have bigger NIL offers.
I’m just excited that Tennessee made it OK for high school guys like myself to have these type opportunities.”
While I'm sure things will end up great with this partnership, if I'm SUCKERPUNCH I'm not sure that I'd be super excited about publicity surrounding an NIL deal I made with a HS Student Athlete who states they're excited to learn what not to do for when the time comes for bigger college NIL offers!
#6 - Bayliss Flynn - Minnesota
The first out of the state of Minnesota was Bayliss Flynn, a soccer goalie and senior at Edina High School. Shortly after the MSHSL approved the new NIL policy, Flynn and TruStone Financial became the first movers with a focus on Flynn promoting the credit union's debit card, while also serving as a voice for financial education and literacy for teenagers.
What those obligations entail weren't readily disclosed, but, as these partnerships continue to build out for many student-athletes, it's important to understand that the execution of terms as well as the creation and/or sharing of assets will be something student-athletes will become engaged with and need to understand.
Maybe this deal will require some content development.
Maybe it'll include her using her social platform to engage with specific target markets TruStone desires to work with.
Whatever that may be, it's a continual push of the evolution and quick movement for those companies / organizations getting their first.
Click the link below to watch the Fox 9 video announcement:
Additionally, and in a similar light as to what was said about Kaitlyn Hanna, the CEO of TruStone Dale Hanna stated how excited they were to work with Bayliss "as the first organization to work in this capacity", commenting specifically in regards to her talent on the field in addition to her success in the classroom as a 4.0 student.
Read more about this one here:
#7 - Richie Clementi - Louisiana
As soon as Louisiana shifted their policies, a few student-athletes at the high school level were quick to move forward, with the first being prep wrestler Richie Clementi from Brother Martin High School.
One thing to consider as you look at the numerous NIL deals that Richie has engaged in is that they are all very much brand / interest aligned...
Just take a quick stroll down his Instagram profile as he announces them, and you'll see:
Protection and Recovery Focused Gear.
Nutritional Foods / Supplements. (Although this one is intriguing because he's wearing a UNC shirt, the college that he has since committed to).
Searching for the Right College.
One thing that I think will become more prevalent in the High School NIL space just like it has during the evolution of NIL in college athletics over the past few years is the increase in development of opportunities with individuals that have unique attributes, including those in less visible sports such as wrestling, bowling, golf, field hockey, etc.
#8 - Jalen Langsy - Minnesota
As we head into the home stretch with our final two, we're going to circle back to the North Star State and High School basketball player Jalen Langsy, who is a very interesting story.
As I stated earlier in regards to organizations / brands looking for ways to connect further with student-athletes in specific ways, Jalen's NIL deal with MT Noodles out of the Minneapolis seems to epitomize just that.
MT Noodles is a Vietnamese restaurant located in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota that works to provide "the authentic taste of Vietnam to your plate". (https://www.mtnoodles.com/)
As you read further regarding how this relationship and eventual NIL deal began, the owner of MT Noodles Justin Bui expressed that as a fan of former NBA player Jeremy Lin, he connected with the representation Lin provided for him as a youth, and felt that Jalen offers an incredible opportunity to influence the Asian community in a positive way.
Jalen became the first known high school Asian American athlete to receive an NIL endorsement, and in collaboration with MT Noodles, "hopes to empower and align with Asian youth locally" and "highlight the best aspects of our rich culture an celebrate who we are".
Mr. Bui went on to say:
"We believe Jalen is the perfect representation of Asian empowerment breaking barriers not seen before in Minnesota."
#9 - Jada Williams - California (by way of Missouri)
As we finish our list, we're going to take a look at a student-athlete that many call the face of High School NIL - Ms. Jada Williams, a senior basketball player at La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, California.
There's a lot to consider when describing Jada's journey within the NIL world, but here are a just a few pertinent notes:
She garnered social media stardom / massive following beginning at the age of 11 when she began posting her intense 6:00 am workout videos to social media / youtube under the nickname of "Lil' Bullet", becoming known for not only unique skills on the court, but also in the ability to engage people.
Much of her focus was on her incredible capacity to do what she calls "crazy things" such as 360 degree and between the leg lay ups that were only expected from her male counterpart players. As she stated in an interview with APNews:
“So then a lot of girls started doing it and then we just all created a women’s basketball community that we’re now fighting for to get equal rights and stuff. It’s kind of cool to see.”
Read that full article here ---> https://apnews.com/article/sports-basketball-social-media-san-diego-bad0903a00a52531f01d051b136e21fc
She's originally from a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, a state that does not allow NIL, but headed West for an opportunity play at a well known school, while also having the ability to capitalize on her NIL value in a state where it was allowed. **I do think more student-athletes in states where NIL at the High School Level is not allowed will consider moving to those that do, especially ones with clear NIL value propositions for sponsors / brands.
Her current list of NIL deals include top brands such as Spalding, Gym Shark, as well as Move Insoles, and are said to bring in more than 6 figures per year.
I would classify Jada as one of the 2%. An elite, highly recruited and visible student athlete who has signed to play Division I basketball at The University of Arizona.
But, beyond that, I see a young adult with an entrepreneurial spirit that capitalizes on opportunities that she's created through branding, social media, engagement, and the activation of the life skills necessary to be successful.
And those life skills is what NIL education is all about.
At this point you can probably tell that NIL deals and opportunities come in a lot of shapes and sizes, and for a lot of different reasons.
The student-athlete and the business entity often are focusing on one of the following:
It's ultimately about developing something.
So while it's sometime easy to pick a side, it's important to remember that opportunities for growth and development is what educational based athletics is all about.
Many of these student-athletes are doing that in the right way.
While I never take a stance on whether I believe NIL at the high school level is right or wrong, good or bad.... I find it pretty hard to not like (and support) a Jada Williams, Jalen Langsy, or Kaitlyn Hanna.
Which is why I'm so passionate about the educational side and helping athletic directors and schools build an educational plan that helps ALL their students through life skill programming with NIL applications.
Let's face it... Every school has student-athletes that have the capacity in many ways to pursue NIL (and i'm not just talking about with their athletic capacity).
What that will look like for them?
That's the interesting part that we're continuing to watch them figure out.
Here to help in any way that I can!
Keep Being Awesome!
- Doc G
email@example.com | 419.306.3002
Dr. Scott Grant, or “Doc G” as his students call him, is former high school teacher, coach, and athletic director turned college professor in educational leadership / social media / branding, and founded Triple Threat Leadership, LLC. (www.triplethreatleadership.com) & NIL-Education (www.nil-education.com).
Need resources for Personal Branding & Social Media Education? Check out Dr. Grant's "Branding of ME" course, utilized by over 10,000 students, and integrated into hundreds of school curriculums across the country.
Learn more ---> https://www.triplethreatleadership.com/branding-of-me-course
Need help navigating Name, Image, and Likeness and preparing your program? Dr. Grant offers services to assist, and will develop specific tools / resources that fit your districts need.
Learn more ---> https://www.nil-education.com/nil-services
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