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Michigan high schoolers may be next to profit from name, image, likeness deals

Group of teenage boys kicking soccer balls during a training session.
Michigan could soon become the next state to allow high school athletes to receive compensation for use of their name, image or likeness. (Shutterstock)
  • Michigan lawmakers mull whether high school athletes can earn compensation for use of their name, image or likeness
  • The House-approved plan faces scrutiny in the Senate over concerns that parents could monetize children
  • Michigan allowed college athletes to make money off their name, image or likeness in 2020

LANSING — A Michigan proposal to allow high school athletes to profit from their name, image or likeness is facing scrutiny in the state Senate amid concerns that parents or other adults could abuse the process. 

The House-approved legislation would allow high school student athletes with parental consent to earn unlimited compensation from so-called NIL deals, which have become increasingly common at the collegiate level.


A student would need additional approval from the Michigan High School Athletic Association to enter either a verbal or written contract with a paid sponsor. 


“We understand this is high school athletics, but we do want to make available for them to benefit after school … on their own time, from their name, image, and likeness,” said Rep. Jimmie Wilson, D-Ypsilanti, who sponsored one of the two bills.

Michigan legalized collegiate NIL deals in 2020, paving the way for lucrative sponsorship deals for university athletes.  

But extending the option to high school athletes could have unintended consequences, according to some lawmakers, who cited previous instances of parents abusively monetizing their children on YouTube and TikTok. 

“I just have a lot of concerns about what we’re doing with education, and how sports are dictating education so much – and what we do in both high school and college, when it comes to athletics,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan. 

“It’s absolutely revolting how students are having their image, their name … used, and money is being made on them, and they have no access to that.”

Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, pointed to recent reports of parent-run social media accounts abusing their children behind the scenes while still profiting off their child’s image. 

Thirty states plus the District of Columbia allow for high school student athletes to profit from their image, according to 2023 data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. The laws vary by state, however.

The Michigan proposal would provide “individual opportunities for individual kids,” said Mark Uyl, executive director of the high school athletic association.

He cautioned Michigan lawmakers against allowing the kind of NIL "collectives" that universities have used to pool resources and entice athletes to play for them.

“If this high school bill wants to go down that path, we will have an impossible time supporting that,” he said. 

The legislation does not allow students to use their likeness to promote items a minor could not legally use or consume, such as gambling or tobacco products. They also cannot wear sponsor apparel during official team activities, nor miss school events to honor a sponsorship deal.

On the school’s side, districts could not help a student obtain a sponsorship deal, serve as that athlete’s agent or otherwise influence a student’s opportunities to receive a sponsored deal. Schools also could not receive compensation for facilitating a sponsorship opportunity. 

Wilson said the MHSAA would be the arbiter of name and likeness deals with high school athletes, which would ensure all parties involved knew the contract stipulations and paid sponsors. 


“They are the ones that oversee our high school athletics already,” he said of the athletic association. 

Senators did not vote upon the bill Wednesday. It previously passed the House in October by a 66-43 bipartisan vote.

“These contracts can’t be based on, ‘you need to go out and score this many points,’ or, ‘you need to do this, that and the other’,” Wilson said. 

“That’s another reason why the high school athletic association is going to review these contracts – to make sure those kinds of provisions are not in these contracts. … They need to just go out and play as normal.”

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