A Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy allowing Connecticut high school athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness was revealed last week after the organization changed its amateur athletic policy during the winter to reflect the NIL language.
Connecticut joins 10 other states that allow their high school athletes to take advantage of NIL activities.
CIAC chief executive Glenn Lungarini said the policy has not changed significantly from the previous policy on amateur sports.
“Our amateur policy didn’t include any language on NIL, so when NIL came out, we looked at the policy and looked at it through the lens of NIL and included NIL language in it,” Lungarini said.
The policy change was reported on Twitter by Braly Keller, an NIL specialist for opendorse, a company that helps athletes maximize the potential value of NIL.
Connecticut high school athletes may retain agents or attorneys and may be involved in “commercial endorsements, promotional activities, social media presence, and product or service advertisements,” according to the CIAC guidelines.
Athletes may not use the school’s name or logos, and no one employed by the schools may be involved in any athlete’s NIL activities except to enforce the policy.
There are some restrictions; NIL activities involving adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco or cannabis products, controlled substances, gambling or weapons are prohibited.
“Any child entering into a sponsorship or image and likeness contract should check with the CIAC and NCAA to ensure that the agreement they enter into will not jeopardize their amateur status,” said Lungarini. “If you look at the NCAA policy, that’s what it says too.”
Lungarini said that since the policy has been in place, no state high school athlete has contacted the CIAC for questions or clarification.
Bristol Central basketball star Donovan Clingan, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year heading to UConn, was reportedly a likely candidate for NIL endorsements.
The reaction of his father Bill: “NULL in high school? I do not know. I think once they reach a university it makes more sense.
Bloomfield athletic director Tammy Schondelmayer wasn’t sure what to make of the politics.
“These kids have enough to worry about, and high school is hard enough,” she said. “Being able to do the things you need to do to be on the football field or in class, getting ready for college, I feel like that’s enough and then adding that would distract them from the things that a high school student of their age, under 18, should be worried.
“The other side is that a lot of kids, if it was an opportunity for them to have any kind of income, now they don’t feel like they have to go find a job to support themselves.”
North West Catholic boys basketball coach John Mirabello was a bit shocked to hear about it.
“Wow,” he said, “I never even thought about it. I’m just getting used to college guys and all the mess it causes them. I never thought this would happen in high schools.
Neither had heard of the policy change, although Lungarini said the CIAC had spoken about the change with sporting directors on CIAC/AD Zoom calls and informed the sporting directors’ board of directors of the Connecticut Association.
Lungarini said that when college athletes began to benefit from NIL, the CIAC felt that the organization of secondary schools should be in front of the issue.
I think a lot of things that start in college work their way through high school,” Lungarini said. “Our high school students, their world exists in the digital element and social media. We are best placed when we have guidelines and a departure policy. If in the future something needs to be revised, it is always best to do so. only do it at the last minute when a problem or question arises.
“We wanted to understand it and [ensure] that we provide reasonable opportunities for our children.
Dom Amore contributed to this story.