Over the past month, we have seen the ripple effects of the NCAA’s suspension of Name, Image, and Likeness regulations span far and wide. This has spurred questions in more realms than anticipated - from the Barstool Athletes debacle to outstanding taxation and intellectual property debates. There is a reason this new NIL era has been coined the Wild West, and it continues to make waves today.
The newest questions are centered around Ohio State’s latest five-star recruit, Quinn Ewers. The powerhouse quarterback is reported to have the potential to earn almost one million dollars in NIL deals, should he choose to forgo his senior season. As an athlete in the state of Texas, Ewers is unable to benefit off his name and likeness while still playing for his high school team. The state’s NIL laws state that no individual, corporate entity, or other organization may enter into any arrangement with a prospective college athlete relating to the athlete’s NIL prior to the athlete’s enrollment in an institution of higher education, a regulation that stands in stark contrast to opportunities other high schoolers have been able to cash in on with their NIL.
Earlier this month, Mikey Williams made headlines when he became the first prep basketball player to sign with a prominent representation agency. The high school phenom is reported to rake in seven figures while still playing his final year at Vertical Academy in North Carolina. Unlike Ewers, Williams has no limitation on profiting off his NIL. Williams will continue to work towards his diploma while playing against top competition in showcases with his prep team. Vertical Academy is not under the governance of a state high school athletic association that puts restrictions on student-athletes monetizing their NIL. Instead of participating in a state sanctioned league, the Academy will function as a high level club team that will play against other prep schools.
In a recent article by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the governing body said that their stance against its student-athletes profiting off their NIL was backed by concern for potential effects on the recruiting process and a want to keep high school athletics centered around the team. Coaches across the country have voiced fears of the detrimental repercussions players signing NIL deals could have on their team’s chemistry. Still, others have advocated for their players' right to profit.
Regardless, Ewers still has the potential to make hundreds of thousands of dollars before playing a single snap of Division I football. With the starting position seemingly wide-open for the Buckeyes and the August 3rd camp start date looming, the eighteen year old has a heavy decision to make. Will he stay and hopefully lead his elite high school team to another state championship game, or will he cash in and head to Columbus early? Ewers expects to make his decision within the next week.
Julie Chambers is a rising 2L at New England Law | Boston.
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