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Could Arkansas high school athletes soon have the option to sign NIL deals?

Will Arkansas join the list of states to allow high school players to make money through NIL opportunities?

ARKANSAS, USA — Amateur sports are evolving thanks to name, image, and likeness (NIL) opportunities—will Arkansas join the list of states to allow high school players to make money?

Amateur sports are changing… and changing fast.

In the world of name, image and likeness, also known as NIL… college athletes are now able to make money endorsing products.

Shiloh Christian Quarterback Eli Wisdom has been watching the NIL world develop.

“When it first came out, like for college, I started to think maybe there’s a possibility for Arkansas high school... so I started to get like a little brand but it kinda never went anywhere. So I always kind of thought of it. It would have been a really cool opportunity for it to happen. “

For Wisdom, the idea of being able to make money—using his name or image as a high school athlete— was exciting.

“I think it would have been an awesome opportunity. Me personally, I’m super busy with football so I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to have a job every day or even on the weekends sometimes. So to have an opportunity to make money just kind of based off what you do on the football field is really cool.”

While the idea sounds cool, it’s not an option yet in Arkansas, according to Arkansas Athletic Association Spokesman Bobby Swofford.

“It’s brand new, there’s a lot of uncharted waters that go along with NIL. Of course, everybody sees the money or the advantage to make money as an athlete whether you’re in high school or college. But there’s a lot of things that go with that. That might not be a good thing for amateur sports. Especially here in Arkansas. So we are weighing all the pros and cons and trying to make the decision possible," Swofford said.

And there are definitely a lot of pros, especially if you ask the athletes.

Wisdom says “I’ve been around guys that they’ve made maybe a couple million dollars just from NIL or they have the opportunity to in college so it’s pretty nice and pretty cool to see. “

According to Swofford, the potential to make money is hard to overlook.

“The biggest pro is obviously the money side of it. We always want to be able to build the exposure for our programs, for our student athletes. And you never want to take that away, their ability to make money and take care of their family."

So while Arkansas is deciding on how to move forward, other states like Oklahoma have already opened the door for their student athletes to make money by passing NIL guidelines back in October.

Mike Whaley, with the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association, tells 5NEWS that some basic guidelines are in place.

“As long as you’re not using your football jersey, your basketball jersey, your uniform, you’re standing there with the state championship trophy or you’re standing at the gym with the logo behind you. As long as you’re not doing that, you're ok."

So, what’s the hold up in Arkansas? What’s the Arkansas Athletic Association waiting on?

Swofford tells us that it’s just about trying to get it right.

“We want to make sure that the playing field is level and that nobody has an unfair advantage," Swofford said. "Maybe it’s a perfect scenario where it doesn’t cause any problems, but we want to make sure we have all the answers before we roll something out."

And while most people seem to agree that letting kids make money and help their families is a good thing… that also comes with a word of caution.

Whaley says, “Children don’t need to put themselves in a situation where later on, when they really could have benefited from this, they’ve prevented that by making a quick decision early in high school.”

Swofford went on to explain, “I think it’s a lot easier to kind of pay attention to it at the college level because you’re seeing athletes in our state pop up on commercials. if you’re watching a game in the SEC, you’re seeing those commercials on the broadcast. So that is paying off for those athletes in the upwards of six figures for a lot of the big names. But your high school tennis players, your high school golfer they’re not going to pull that. Your high school quarterback is likely not gonna pull that unless he’s already a major D1 athlete."

As for Eli, he has a simple message for the AAA.

“So, your message to the AAA is… Do it? Why not, if this is where the college world is going is NIL and making money and stuff like that for your name? Then why not start it in high school?”

“So, your message to the triple A is…Do it? Why not, if this is where the college world is going is NIL and making money and stuff like that for your name. Then why not start it in high school.”

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