Could NIL be legalized for NC public high school athletes?

NORTH CAROLINA — Do North Carolina public high school athletes deserve to make money off their name, image, and likeness? The Business of College Sports says 37 states now allow it in some form.

Private school athletes in North Carolina can do it, but last month, the state board of education voted to ban those deals for public school kids. Many call that an unfair exclusion.

“There will be some four and five-star athletes who will garner five figures,” said former North Carolina State University quarterback Cam Wyrick. “We have a couple in Charlotte who are already garnering six figures at private schools.”

Wyrick formed a business to help student-athletes navigate the new world of NIL.

BrandBoss was created when the North Carolina High School Athletic Association approved NIL for public school athletes, only then to have the rug pulled out from under them by the state board of ed saying ‘Hey, all bets are off,’” he said.

After the athletic association approved NIL in 2023, lawmakers stepped in and ordered the state board of education to make the rules. On June 6, the board approved a rule prohibiting student-athletes from making NIL money through:

  • Public appearances or commercials
  • Autograph signings
  • Athletic camps and clinics
  • Endorsements
  • Social media ads

That prompted athletic association commissioner Que Tucker to say that NIL ”is not ‘pay to play,’ rather it is about trying to ensure our students can use what they own, in a business manner, that does not jeopardize their high school athletic eligibility.”

Obviously, it closes opportunities for a certain class: just public school students.

Attorney Mike Ingersoll played football at Butler High School in Matthews, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the NFL. He thinks high school athletes should be treated the same as Olympic athletes.

“Olympic athletes, you see them on TV, Subway commercials, they do endorsement deals, but they are not paid by the IOC. They are not employees,” Ingersoll said. “But they can still make money off their name, image and likeness.”

North Carolina State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis sent Channel 9′s Scott Wickersham a statement saying they had to make this rule on a tight timeline. He said they “elected in the temporary rule to maintain the status quo” to have more conversations before “the permanent rule-making process, which is currently scheduled for the board’s August meeting.”

Child psychologist Todd Cartmell agrees they should take more time. He said mixing minors and money can distract from learning, socializing, and becoming an adult.

“The glitz and allure of, ‘Hey, I can be famous right now. I can make a ton of money right now,’ can easily draw kids off of that,” Cartmell said.

But recently retired Butler High football coach Brian Hales said the reality is that some of the kids are already being forced to make adult decisions.

“We’ve had kids who help keep the lights on at home,” Hales said.

He said he’s mentored many young stars with side jobs who could have made that money from NIL instead. It would free up more time for school and the sport they love.

“If you have a kid who can replace that money by wearing some gloves, having their picture on social media, why not?” Hales said.

We’ll see how the discussion moves forward when the board meets in August.

If you are wondering about South Carolina, NIL is also not legal at this point but the high school athletic league has been discussing it.

(WATCH BELOW: 10 members of NC State’s 1983 basketball champs sue NCAA over NIL compensation)

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