COLOMBUS – Ohio high school administrators voted to reject a proposal by the Ohio High School Athletics Association for Ohio school athletes to make money from name, image and likeness after the results of statewide voting in referendums were revealed Tuesday.
The Name, Image, and Similarity (NIL) proposal failed by a margin of 538 to 254 (68 percent against).
The proposal reflects recent university-wide changes that would have allowed student-athletes to sign endorsement agreements as long as their teams, schools, and/or the OHSAA logo were not used, approvals did not occur on school property or in school uniforms, and provided there were no approvals with companies that do not support The mission of educational athletics, such as casinos, gambling, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. By rejecting the proposal, student-athletes at Ohio State remain unable to sign endorsement deals without losing their standing as an amateur.
“Every year, the referendum vote shows that our member schools have a voice in this democratic process,” OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ooty said in a statement.
“Our office has been so happy with the discussion and insights our schools have expressed this spring that we met with them about each of the 14 proposals. If the NIL is going to enter the interschool scene in Ohio, we want the schools to be the ones making that decision. Whatever we do going forward, they will. Includes discussion on this issue with our school principals, board of directors, staff, and leaders of other state high school sports associations.”
It’s unclear whether the OHSAA’s decision to block NIL deals will be able to hold up in the long term in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision Alston v. NCAA. Other public high school governing bodies have instituted regulations around NIL deals in an effort to establish frameworks in order to avoid the chaos that followed the NCAA’s decision.
OHSAA spokesman Tim Strid previously said the organization opposes marketing deals for high school athletes.
While there are exceptions, the amounts college athletes earn from NIL deals are small. According to data collected by Opendorse Deals, the average payment since July for athletes in large Division I schools is $664. It’s only $59 for Division II athletes and $43 for Division III athletes.
Nearly 70% of deals involve social media posts, Opendorse data shows.
David Redpath, associate professor of sports business at Ohio University, frames the opportunity for student-athletes to benefit financially as a civil rights cause. He said the athletes are not employees of the schools they attend and should not be prevented from earning money, he told The Associated Press in April, adding that the amounts would not be large but could be put in place. “A few extra dollars in their pocket.”
“From my point of view, it was all positive,” Ridpath said. “College, and therefore, high school athletes, are not employees and should not be confined anywhere in the marketplace where they have value.”
Member schools of the Ohio High School Athletic Association approved 12 of 14 proposed revisions to the OHSAA constitution and bylaws. Voting for the OHSAA’s annual referendum ended at 4 p.m. Monday. Each school member has one vote on each item, which is cast by the high school principal. Once again, nearly every school participated in the voting process, with 813 high schools out of the 817 OHSAA members casting their vote (99.5 percent).
Another issue that failed by a narrow margin from 406 to 393 was a proposal to add a new exception to the Registration and Attendance Regulations, which would have allowed a student enrolled in a member public school that does not sponsor a team sport to play. That sport is in a public school located in an adjacent public school district. The vote count on this issue was the closest referendum result since the competitive balance during the 2014 session when it failed 327-308 before passing it in the next session.
Approved changes to the Bylaws and the Constitution will take effect on August 1, unless otherwise noted. A simple majority of votes cast by principals of member schools is required to adopt a proposed amendment. Each member school has one vote.
Another change of note is that principals of students with an intellectual or physical impairment will be able to fit in and play a game without checking certain aspects of eligibility. A student is allowed to participate in one competition per season and the coach and competitor officials must be informed of the situation in advance. It was approved by 793 votes in favour, to 13 with seven abstentions.
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