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New York's high school athletes can now profit from their name, image and likeness

A football in the end zone of Oceanside's

A football in the end zone of Oceanside's field after team practice on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Credit: James Escher/James Escher

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced on Wednesday that it will permit amateur athletes competing in state public-school sports to profit from their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). The athletes may not identify with the teams they play on, meaning they cannot use team uniforms or symbols associated with their school programs.

NYSHSPHSAA director Robert Zayas made the announcement on Wednesday.

The move brings the state up to speed with the NCAA, which now allows athletes to profit from the Name, Image and Likeness.

"Colleges are dealing with it now and there is a trickle-down effect obviously from the college level down to the high school level," said Tom Combs, Executive Director for Section XI, which oversees public school sports in Suffolk. "We want to be proactive and I think it's a very smart step in the right direction."

"This might have a bigger impact upstate," said Pat Pizzarelli, executive director of Section VIII, the governing body for public school sports in Nassau. "We haven't come across it down here yet that I know of for a high school athlete. [One] can't use his image in his school uniform… or a video of him playing his school game in order to make money. If he did, he'd be considered professional and he'd be ineligible.

"That said, there is social media and an athlete could make money that way."

Pizzarelli said that once the NCAA passed legislation about Name, Image and Likeness, it seemed inevitable that high school sports would need to follow.

"We knew we were going to have to do something on a high school level." Pizzarelli said.

Pizzarelli and Combs both said the measure passed overwhelmingly.

How this might impact high school athletes on Long Island? They are competing with nine professional sports teams and a handful of college programs for potential "endorsement deals." However locally, there is some celebrity about high school athletes.

Perhaps none has more name recognition that Oceanside senior quarterback Charlie McKee. He won the 2020-21 Newsday Thorp Award as the top player in Nassau and is poised to break the county mark for career passing yards.

"I don’t see Charlie being able to earn until he is done competing as a high school football player," Oceanside coach Rob Blount said. "He can’t use anything that affiliates him with the team. . . . . Later he will be a brand name and there may be things he can do. It’s an evolving situation and we don’t know where it can go."

Blount said that McKee won’t do anything to jeopardize his amateur standing.

"More than anything, Charlie McKee wants to win a championship." Blount said. "It’s the only thing on his mind. He will get awards and he will set records. But winning a title is all he cares about."

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