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NIL and prep sports: BV North star Aubrey Shaw explains how high school athletes in Missouri, Kansas benefit

Blue Valley North Aubrey Shaw NIL
Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 25, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The millions of dollars flowing into and from major-college NIL collectives has generated countless headlines in recent years, but a lesser known facet of the changing landscape of amateur sports centers on NIL at the high school level.

Missouri and Kansas are among more than three dozen states that allow students to profit from their name, image and likeness rights yet maintain prep sports eligibility — and it’s not going away.

“I think NIL for student-athletes in high school is a great opportunity to represent brands and kind of just build a name for ourselves,” Blue Valley North junior basketball star Aubrey Shaw said. “It’s a new thing. We’re still kind of learning about it, but it’s a great opportunity for students to build their own name.”

It’s also one not afforded to past generations, which is why Shaw is more than happy to test the fresh NIL waters.

“Before, people weren’t able to do anything in college,” Shaw, an ESPN five-star recruit, said. “Now, you can do stuff before. Since we have the opportunity, why wouldn’t a student-athlete want to do something like this? If we have the resource, we definitely should be using it.”

Usually, the money involved in deals with high-school athletes is considerably less than at the college level, but even that could change sooner rather than later.

“With respect to high school kids, there actually is not a ton of NIL activity happening when you're comparing it to college athletics,” Mit Winter, an attorney at Kennyhertz Perry and an NIL expert, said. “There are some athletes that have big social-media followings that are getting endorsement-type deals. They're generally not that lucrative, although some are. But you're starting to see the ability for some of the high school athletes to now enter into deals with some of the NIL collectives, which is where really most of the money flowing to college athletes is happening at that college level.”

The rules around accepting an NIL windfall varies by state.

The Missouri legislature passed a law that went into effect last year, allowing high school athletes to earn NIL money immediately after signing a letter of intent or financial-aid agreement as long as it’s with an in-state college or university.

Kansas does not have a law about NIL, but the Kansas State High School Activities Association adopted regulations in November 2021 that regulate NIL.

Student-athletes can’t sign a professional contract, are barred from NIL activities during school hours, may not use their school’s name and logo or the KSHSAA name and logo in promotional work, and can’t reference awards won for their high-school athletic performances in NIL-connected activities.

“Simply said, what they may use is their name unaffiliated with school team/program, their likeness separate and apart from school activities, and their image affiliated (with) non-school programs,” KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Falflick said via email.

Additionally, Kansas student-athletes also are prohibited from endorsing tobacco, alcohol, gambling, banned athletic substances, or illegal substances and activities.

For now, the big-money NIL — unless you’re Caitlin Clark or Caleb Williams — remains primarily connected to recruiting, so Shaw may be having those conversations in the near future, too.

“NIL is a huge factor in recruiting, like we talked about — not just with high school athletes, but with the transfer portal,” Winter said. “When (athletes) enter the portal, they're having these conversations with collectives and schools about, ‘What's my NIL compensation going to be?’ In many cases, it's the No. 1 conversation that's happening and the deciding factor in where athletes are deciding to go, at the high school level to college and also transfer portal athletes on where they're going to go.”

Shaw considers herself lucky that she got to watch her older brother, Mizzou forward Aidan Shaw, test the NIL waters before her.

“It’s always nice seeing your older siblings go through it first,” Aubrey said. “You kind of know what to (do) and what not to do. But for NIL especially, he’s just a great person to follow.”

Aidan used an NIL deal to provide four scholarships to Kansas City-area high-school students.

Perhaps a similar deal is in Aubrey’s future.

“That would be cool, yeah,” Aubrey said. “That would be cool.”