GHSA Director says education for new NIL policy 'was coming sooner or later'

Less than one percent eligible GHSA student-athletes have signed NIL deals since October

Earlier this month, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) announced a partnership with Triple Threat Leadership LLC, a leader in high school focused Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) education.

The partnership, announced through a Jan. 9 press release, came after the GHSA State Executive Committee’s approval of updated language to its NIL policy on Oct. 2, 2023. School administrators were guided through the NIL policy in a Jan. 25 webinar hosted by Triple Threat Leadership founder Dr. Scott Grant and GHSA Executive Director Dr. Robin Hines.

Both men spoke with Connect Savannah prior to the webinar to talk about NIL and its potential impact only a few months into this new era of Georgia high school sports.

GHSA Director says education for new NIL policy 'was coming sooner or later' (3)
Dr. Scott Grant
“My role with Doctor Hines and the GHSA is to support them and what I do is, I build educational services and support in educational policy. I'm more of a support person for NIL high school educational policy," said Grant.

"I help build tools to support schools and school administrators and associations in understanding NIL in general, and what it looks like in their specific state. Our policy guide is taking the GHSA policy and making it very easily digestible for school administrators on what it actually means.”

Hines has been the Executive Director of the GHSA since 2017 and he is retiring after this academic year. But since 2021, he has been persistent in his plea to schools to be ready for the arrival of NIL.

"I felt this was coming to Georgia one way or another," said Hines. "We were able to get ahead of it, but we certainly weren't the first at the party when it comes to states with NIL policies already in place."

If the GHSA did not preemptively adjust the language in its constitution and bylaws regarding NIL, state legislation would've surely forced it to happen at some point, argues Hines.

“We've been talking about name, image, and likeness for about two years now and the flow of states doing this is up to 32 or 33 states now maybe,” he said. “It was coming sooner or later. People look at NIL and they think that it's paying kids to play football, basketball or whatever. This is far from the truth. It’s built on the premise that everyone has a right to their own publicity. To deny students who happened to participate in athletics the same opportunity as every other student in their school or district would be discriminatory on my part. That's what people don't understand."

When Hines first began pondering policy on the subject, he was already sensing a partnership would be needed. He says that data provided to the GHSA indicates only a tiny portion of the student-athlete population has been impacted by the allowance of NIL deals, so far.

Submitting NIL deals to school AD's within seven days of the agreement is one requirement of GHSA policy regarding NIL. Hines said the GHSA has 429,714 eligible student-athletes in its association. Only 44 (or .01 percent) have signed and submitted NIL deals since October of 2023.
GHSA Director says education for new NIL policy 'was coming sooner or later' (2)
Dr. Robin Hines

"I actually had planned to bring it before the board for a vote [in 2022] but I said I’m not going to do it yet, because I still had so many questions at that point. I knew that we needed to add an educational component to what it is that we're doing," said Hines. "I've looked at it for a couple of years and I think I have a good understanding, but there would be things that would come up that were new to me and there's going to be new things that come up later too. So, it was important we found somebody that was going to be a great educational partner."

Grant's job is not to help facilitate NIL deals. Instead, he says the goal is to educate and inform all parties on what the policy boundaries are.

“I don't help students monetize, that's not what I do,” he said. “I work with the schools and the stakeholders of those schools and focus on how we keep student-athletes safe and compliant. How do we educate them on tax implications? These kids are minors, so anyone who says college NIL and high school NIL are the same thing, they really don't understand it. It's completely different, because you're dealing with a whole different level of person.”

Grant says the stigma surrounding NIL is largely due to a misunderstanding of what it actually is. The school or school system shouldn’t be impacted much, if everything goes according to policy.

“Most of what's negative in NIL is there only because adults don't understand what they're allowed to do,” said Grant. “People may not understand, but it really doesn't change anything because NIL is actually a student-athlete monetizing their own name, image and likeness with an external entity. Schools don't have anything to do with it.”

Triple Threat “will provide NIL advisory support for the GHSA administration in regard to continually evolving NIL questions, concerns, education, and other elements," according to the press release.

Undue influence is defined by the GHSA as "the use of influence by any person connected directly or indirectly with a GHSA school to induce a student of any age to transfer from one school to another, or to enter the ninth grade at a member school for athletic or literary competition purposes, whether or not the school presently attended by the student is a member of the GHSA."

It's the mixture of money and undue influence in the NIL realm which concerns Hines and many member schools worried about student-athlete transfers increasing.

"We still have rules against undue influence in recruiting and that sort of thing. We don't want NIL to be something that's used to entice people or induce them to move, which would fall under the purview of undue influence anyway," said Hines, who said schools will need to police each other on NIL issues much like they currently do with recruiting rules.

"If, all of a sudden, six of my kids end up at a certain high school and everybody has an NIL deal with a local business or something like that, well then that's something we're going to have to take a look at. But our coaches and schools do a pretty good job of monitoring one another anyhow. The education part is so important here again, because nobody is trying to break the rules on purpose."

The full NIL appendix 'N' addition as seen in the GHSA Constitution and Bylaws for 2023-24.
GHSA Director says education for new NIL policy 'was coming sooner or later' (4)
Appendix "N" concerning NIL policy in the GHSA bylaws for 2023-24.

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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