NIL proposal off the table for now in Ohio, but it’s not going away

Springfield stops St. Edward's Christian Ramos at the 1-yard line in the Division I state championship game on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. David Jablonski/Staff

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Springfield stops St. Edward's Christian Ramos at the 1-yard line in the Division I state championship game on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. David Jablonski/Staff

Wayne boys basketball coach in support of athletes earning right to profit off name, image, likeness

Lakota West was one of the Ohio High School Athletic Association members schools to vote in favor of passing the name, image and likeness proposal, which failed Tuesday.

“Philosophically, I struggle with it,” Athletic Director Scott Kauffman said. “I’m not going to say I’m against it. My feeling was I’d rather be ahead of it and control it than have it be dictated by legislation or by litigation. So it’s a Catch 22. Am I disappointed it failed? No. Am I surprised it failed? No. But in the same respect, it’s something that’s going to continue to be talked about nationally, and we’ll deal with it when the time comes. But, for now, the membership has spoken. So let’s move on to the next topic.”

The NIL proposal failed by a 538-245 vote.

According to the OHSAA, “the proposal mirrored recent changes made at the collegiate level and would have allowed student-athletes to sign endorsement agreements so long as their teams, schools and/or the OHSAA logo were not used, the endorsements did not happen on school property or in school uniform, and provided there were no endorsements with companies that do not support the mission of education-based athletics, such as casinos, gambling, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. By rejecting the proposal, Ohio’s student-athletes remain unable sign endorsement deals without losing their amateur status.”

Wayne boys basketball coach Nate Martindale doesn’t know how his school voted on the proposal, but he was in favor of it passing.

“I just feel the elite-level athletes in Ohio, they could benefit from this,” Martindale said. “Those are the kids that are hurt by that proposal not going through. I’m not sure how many athletes across the state would benefit.”

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Martindale mentioned one of his own seniors, point guard Lawrent Rice, the No. 135 recruit in the class of 2023, as well as two other high-profile Ohio recruits, Centerville’s Gabe Cupps and Cincinnati Taft’s Rayvon Griffith, as the type of athletes who would have been able to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness. College athletes have had NIL rights since last summer.

“I feel like eventually it’s coming,” Martindale said. “I just don’t know what it looks like yet. Hopefully, we’re able to get ahead of this and set some parameters and set some guidelines as to what this looks like for Ohio. There are other states right now that have adopted this. I would definitely hate to see high-level guys in our state go somewhere else and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go benefit from this and play over here.’”

High school principals cast the votes on the issue. A majority is needed to pass a proposal.

“If NIL is going to enter the Ohio interscholastic landscape, we want the schools to be the ones to make that determination,” OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute said in a press release. “Whatever we do moving forward, it will include discussion on this issue with our school administrators, Board of Directors, staff and leaders of other state high school athletic associations.”

Kaufman doesn’t think the issue will come up for a vote again anytime soon because it failed by such a wide margin.

“If something happens a year or two or five years from now and the legislature throw something into a budget bill, or something happens within the courts, that it’s forced upon us,” Kaufman said, “then we’ll adjust and deal with it as best we can. The nice part was the association got ahead of it. Now we have a pretty resounding idea of what the member schools want.”

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