In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
- What’s In a Name?
What’s In a Name?
Sometime in the 1500’s, William Shakespeare wrote the classic “Romeo and Juliet.” Juliet’s balcony soliloquy contrasted the importance of a name against the object itself.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”
As you may recall from high school, Juliet Capulet could not associate with Romeo simply because his last name was Montague. In Juliet’s eyes, Romeo was the same person with or without his last name. So, Juliet suggests that Romeo “deny thy father” and change his last name to circumvent her family’s hatred of the Montagues.
Fast forward to present. Except for soccer fans, the term “NIL” meant little to those interested in sports until the Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA had violated antitrust laws by restricting student-athletes’ compensation. NCAA v. Alston, 141 S. Ct. 2141 (2021). The Supreme Court’s decision opened up opportunities for student- athletes to profit on their name, image and likeness (NIL). c While the Supreme Court and NCAA allow college student- athletes to monetize their NIL, the state in which a student- athlete plays or the school they attend may affect the student-athlete’s ability to engage in NIL activities. What is NIL? NCAA Rule Explained.
In Maryland, a student-athlete attending a public college may enter into a NIL agreement provided it does not conflict with the student- athlete’s team contract. Correspondingly, the Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act requires the public institution to advise the student-athlete of any NIL contract provision which conflicts with the student-athlete’s team contract. Md. Ann. Code. Education Sec. 15-131 (Effective July 1, 2023).
NCAA NIL rules do not prohibit high school student – athletes from entering into NIL agreements. However, the NCAA does not control high school or sports associations. In fact, some high school associations have taken the position that the NCAA NIL policy does not change their association’s eligibility rules.
So, what about Maryland high school athletes? A bill for high school student-athletes was introduced in the 2021 Maryland Legislative Session but the bill was referred to committee.
Unlike public college student-athletes, Maryland high school student-athletes do not have statutory NIL authorization. In the absence of statutory authorization, Maryland high school student- athletes must check their high school association or sports association rules before entering into a NIL. A high school student-athlete’s failure to comply with their school’s association or sports association rules defining “amateur” could affect their eligibility.
Presently, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA), which regulates public high schools, has not established a NIL policy, although it was an agenda item at their 2022 September Executive Council meeting. To further complicate things for high school student-athletes, the MPSSAA only regulates public high schools, not private.
In today’s world, Juliet might have questioned Romeo’s ability to monetize his name, image and likeness before suggesting he change his name from Montague. However, a balcony soliloquy on name, image, and likeness, would dramatically change what many consider to be the world’s greatest love story.
Regardless, college sports and amateur athletics will be dramatically changed because a name is now a significant part of an NIL agreement.