High school athletes in Alabama may be able to receive name, image and likeness (NIL) payments if a bill pre-filed by State Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika) becomes law in the 2024 legislative session.
According to Business of College Sports, 31 states currently allow such payments to be paid to high school athletes by private businesses and individuals. After a United States Supreme Court ruling, the NCAA began allowing collegiate athletes to profit off NIL in 2021.
Gray told 1819 News in an interview on Monday he began thinking about filing legislation for NIL at the high school level in Alabama after the Georgia High School Association passed guidelines in October allowing for high school athletes to receive NIL money.
"I represent east Alabama. I'm right close to the Georgia line. Schools like Opelika, Phenix City, (and) Smiths Station are in my area. That's a big deal because it's going to be hard to keep talent in those areas, especially for those student-athletes that have great ability and talent. They're going to go to Georgia," Gray said.
He added, "It's going to happen at some point, and I just feel like student-athletes should be able to monetize off their name, image, and likeness."
"Being a former athlete (and) understanding that some athletes started at the age of 5,6 years old with a goal to make it in college or make it to the NFL, NBA, WNBA, and a lot of people fall short. This is a way that I think you get to compensate the athlete for what they can do now and not what they can do later down the road," Gray said.
He continued, "We want to actually be able to keep our athletes over here in Alabama, and I think this is a way to be aligned with the majority of states in the nation. We don't want to be the last state to do this, and it seems like it's happening year by year that someone is opting into NIL."
A spokesman for the Alabama High School Athletic Association declined to comment when asked about the legislation.
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