Maryland State Delegate Jay Walker has introduced Maryland House Bill 1431, entitled Public High Schools-Student Athletes-Compensation for Name, Image and Likeness, which would authorize public high school athletes in the state to enter into name, image and likeness contracts (NIL), provided certain conditions are met, including the co-signing of any agreement by a parent or guardian. The proposed legislation, which would not take effect until July 1, 2023, would amend existing Maryland Education legislation and add to Section 7-129 and provide these specific rights to any public high school athlete who participates in an interscholastic athletic program at any public high school in the state.
The bill would prevent the State Superintendent, any County Board, or any individual public schools from establishing any rule, requirement, standard or other limitation preventing student-athletes from earning compensation for their name, image or likeness. The same limitation preventing limitations on NIL rights would also apply to any athletic association within the state, including the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. It would also prevent any rule that would restrict a school from participating in high school athletics if a student-athlete from that school has received compensation for name, image and likeness rights.
The proposed legislation also restricts any public school or any groups affiliated with the school from providing compensation to the student-athlete for their NIL rights or from limiting the student-athlete from using their NIL for a commercial purpose when the student-athlete is not involved in official team activities.
As with most state NIL laws legislating college athletes, the bill provides student-athletes with the right to secure representation for contracts or legal matters.
In addition, the legislation does provide a few limitations to the student-athlete. Specifically,
the bill provides that the terms of the contract cannot be in conflict with any high school athletic program contract and that the student-athlete does not have the legal right to utilize the school’s name, trademarks, logos or other intellectual property owned by the school in any NIL agreement.
If passed by Maryland state legislators and signed into law, Maryland would join other states including California, New York and New Jersey, which have already authorized NIL rights to the high school athletes in their states.
Unlike Maryland which would protect NIL rights pursuant to state law, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has taken the position that their rules never prohibited athletes from profiting from their NIL rights, as the CIF is unwilling to declare an athlete ineligible for also participating in the state’s film and television economy. However, the CIF prohibits athletes from using their school’s name, logos, uniforms, or marks in endorsements.
New York and New Jersey have also joined California in granting high school athletes NIL rights. While the New York legislature has yet to pass a state law granting NIL rights to college athletes in the state, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) executive committee has revised the state’s amateur rule to allow high school athletes to benefit from their NIL rights without jeopardizing their amateur status.
New Jersey has also empowered high school athletes with specific NIL endorsement rights. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s executive committee (NJSIAA) approved an NIL proposal to permit athletes to benefit from their NIL rights. The New Jersey Association has adopted the California model by prohibiting athletes from using their school logos and marks. New Jersey athletes also are prohibited from endorsing certain categories of products and services, including adult entertainment, alcohol, cannabis, gambling, and firearms.
Jackson Lewis’ Sports Industry Group will continue to monitor the ongoing NIL issues on the federal and state level and the impact on the sports legal landscape. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Practice Group with questions.