Tennessee high school athletes now eligible to sign NIL deals


As WSMV's Brendan Tierney reports, high school athletes can now make NIL money.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - High school athletes in Tennessee can now get paid and sign endorsement deals after the TSSAA approved name, image and likeness rules on Thursday.

The new rules are similar to the college sport guidelines that were approved by the NCAA last year, and a handful of students are already announcing sponsorships.

Under the new rules, a high school student can make money for giving lessons or endorsing products as long as it doesn’t include their school’s name, logo or uniform. NIL deals must also be individual, preventing an entire team from being signed under one contract.

Franklin-based sport psychologist Tim White said many teens are not prepared for the stress of these deals because they can already be overwhelmed from their responsibilities in the classroom and on the field.

“The big thing that really comes up in my mind is this idea of expectation,” White said. “I think there is this assumption that everybody out there has some sort of endorsement or some sort of deal where they are making money. There’s this idea that as a middle school athlete now I have to be positioning myself to be a high-level high school athlete so I can turn around and make money. That is just not the case.”

White said only a handful of top athletes will sign deals, but every student should have a support system in place for if they get an offer or one of their teammates begins getting sponsorships. That can include a mentor, coach and sport psychologist.

He has already seen an increasing number of student athletes at his practice, White House Sport Psychology, stressed about their current responsibilities due to private lessons and coaches many people are using and said there are concerns students might be manipulated or taken advantage of with these financial opportunities.

“Even the richest people in the world only have 24 hours in the day,” White said. “Our student athletes, especially high school student athletes, that time is filled up already. When you are considering the possibility of needing to find even more time to endorse a product or make a social media post or even something bigger like film a commercial. There is only so much time so the feeling of being overwhelmed and not be able to do it well and do it all.”