OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For the first time, Oklahoma’s high school athletes will be able to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL), while maintaining their eligibility.
The news came Wednesday after the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) announced a set of guidelines to help advise students and their families.
“What our membership needed was some guidelines to say ‘this is our starting point’,” said Mike Whaley, Associate Director for the OSSAA.
“The initial name, image and likeness that has been popular within the NCAA world of life has started its trickle down towards the secondary school level,” he added, while saying the OSSAA has had some inquiries from some schools and parents about what was going to be permitted.
“As long as they are not using, as you can see from the guidelines, the school jersey, or the school uniform, or having the car commercial shot at the school on the 50 yard line on the football field…those are the things we we’re trying to do … give our schools some guidelines,” Whaley added.
According to OSSAA guidelines, a student may earn compensation from the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL) in situations that comply with Rule 5 for maintaining amateur status and provided there is no violation of rules prohibiting influencing a student to attend or remain at a member school, according to Rule 9.
OSSAA associate Bryan Bedford, who will act as a liaison to help with guidance and support on a statewide level, said parent education would be key to a successful rollout in the Oklahoma.
“I would be thinking about really get grounded and educated first, understand what’s possible, what’s feasible, what’s realistic, what makes sense?” he said, also citing a need to understand more complex elements like legal and IP protection.
“Do you need to have a website? Do you need to have a social handle? What are the things that you need to have in place to kind of protect yourself. I would say is ‘start there’, and then it becomes easier to figure out,” said Bedford, also a former Division 1 recruiting director.
“Kids are [already] monetizing their social platforms. This just gives some parameters to say,’this is how it should work,’ and it allows everybody to get on the same playing field,” he continued.
Wednesday’s announcement means students will be able to receive money for their efforts on and off the field and could allow for greater exposure for standout student athletes like Jaden Nickens, who told KFOR opportunities have already come his way that he hasn’t been able to take advantage of, before now.
“They’ve been trying to do that before they even announced this,” he said in an interview with the station on Wednesday.
“We’ve just been really patient with this and hoping it would come to Oklahoma one day,” added the star athlete from Millwood High School, who is ranked number #1 in both football and basketball.
“I’ve been very blessed for all that’s come my way [so far],” Jaden said, citing his commitment to his faith in God, family, academic performance and his community.
“[NIL] is going to help a lot,” he continued. “[The world] can see how we carry ourselves on and off the field,” speaking of the hours and effort he and other athletes often put into their craft.
“He’s the one out here putting in the work, he’s the one out here working hard,” added his dad, Nate Jones, also an Associate Head Boys Basketball Coach at Millwood, a placement the family said has been instrumental in Jaden’s overall development.
“[Millwood] has embraced and supported us [all] as a family, and they have pushed him to be the best – not athlete – but person,” he continued.
There are some restrictions that come along with the newly announced guidelines, namely that an athlete can’t get involved with anything that conflicts with a school’s policy, involves sports wagers or betting or banned substances.
Players will also need to make their school aware of any contracts they sign.
“Not many students athletes [will] get these opportunities at such a young age, [so] whatever comes [our] way will be a blessing to us as a family, but it’s [all] Jaden and we’re just here to support him,” said Jaden’s dad.
“You go to school, you get good grades [and] you’re a star on the field. Why not get paid for it?” said Jaden.
“It’s great to get acknowledged on and off the court,” he added.