Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Rep. Gray files high school athlete name, image, likeness bill

Student athletes in Alabama could be paid for their endorsements and promotional activities under a bill in the upcoming legislative session. 

Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika, pre-filed House Bill 25 this week. 

Gray told Alabama Daily News that money is often made off of high school sports and athletes, but those athletes don’t have the opportunity to make money for themselves. 

Thirty states now have name, image and likeness agreements for high school students. Gray said he didn’t know it was that many until Georgia approved its rules in October. 

Gray’s district includes several schools near the Georgia border, including Central-Phenix City High School, which won the Class 7A football championship on Wednesday.

“People were asking, when is Alabama going to have NIL?” he said. “… When you have those caliber players and they’re so close to the Georgia line — only a bridge separates Phenix City and Columbus, Ga. — for me, it’s about keeping the kids here.” 

Tennessee also allows young athletes to make money off their skills. 

“We don’t want to be the last,” Gray said. 

The bill says monetary or in-kind payments to a student can’t be contingent on athletic performance, provided as an incentive to enroll or stay at a specific school, or provided by a school or agent for a school.

In any NIL agreements, students can’t use or wear their schools’ logos, gear or facilities or that of an athletic association. They also can’t endorse or participate in anything that conflicts with schools’ policies, including tobacco or alcohol products. 

The bill also says before any compensation, an athlete and his or her guardian “shall receive professional guidance as to the potential impacts and consequences of receiving the compensation, including collegiate financial aid and tax implications.”

A comment from the Alabama High School Athletic Association wasn’t available.

Gray, a former standout high school athlete who received a football scholarship to North Carolina State University, said when he was growing up, he played sports for fun and was fortunate to get a college scholarship. Now, he said, athletes in elementary school are working with trainers to hone their skills.

“It’s no different than training to become a doctor, they are working toward something,” said Gray, who is running for Congress in Alabama’s Second District. 

But not everyone makes it to the college level or and even fewer become professional athletes, so they should have a chance to earn money while they can, he said.

“It’s really financial literacy and having the ability to make money now,” Gray said.

“… This allows an even playing field for those athletes who may be high school stars to be compensated.” 

Under his bill, a player from the 7A championship could get endorsements at car dealerships or get free meals at a restaurant in exchange for promoting it. 

“Whatever they can do that is non-dependent on the school, they can make money off of,” Gray said.

In 2021, the Alabama Legislature approved NIL rules for collegiate athletes. That law was repealed when the NCAA later approved broader interim rules. Alabama lawmakers didn’t want the state’s guidelines to be more restrictive than what other states were doing under the NCAA.

The legislative session starts Feb. 6.


Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia