LHSAA name, image & likeness decision for high school student-athletes elicits mixed reaction

Benton High School Tigers
Benton High School Tigers(KSLA)
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Coaches and state sports officials are reacting to the decision by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) to move forward with allowing high school student-athletes to profit off name, image, and likeness opportunities, similar to NCAA student-athletes.

On Thursday, April 7, the LHSAA approved a positioning statement, adding it to their bylaws, to assure high school student-athletes would maintain amateur status if and when they begin receiving NIL monies.

The move is garnering mixed reaction.

“I think this has the potential to be the absolute worst thing to ever happen to high school sports,” said Benton High School athletic director and head football coach, Reynolds Moore. “We’re seeing college players starting to ‘hold out’ because they don’t have an NIL deal. Everything trickles down.”

Coach Reynolds Moore, Benton High School
Coach Reynolds Moore, Benton High School(KSLA)

However, Coach Moore, who is on the executive committee of the Louisiana Football Coaches Association, says until the announcement was made Thursday, there had been no official mention in coaches’ circles that this was about to happen.

“While I think this may be advantageous for private schools, if clear rules aren’t established and strictly enforced, this will be the wild, wild west for all schools across the state,” Coach Moore stated.

Eddie Bonine is the executive director of the LHSAA. As opposed to Coach Moore, he says the move is about equipping student athletes with the right tools to make decisions.

“We’re not advocating, we’re not promoting, we’re not encouraging, what we’re doing is we’re trying to educate so that if and when a student is offered a contract they know what to do,” he said.

LHSAA officials say they also approved a statewide partnership with Eccker Sports to provide educational services and resources to help high school leadership and students navigate the challenges that NIL contracts are bringing to high school sports.

“Who can take that module, that 30 minute module just to educate themselves so that they don’t get taken advantage of and they understand that if they earn money there’s tax implications, tax things you gotta fill out., 10-99′s, all that stuff,” he said.

KSLA posted on Facebook about the announcement Thursday evening, asking if high school athletes should be paid. Many people shared their opinions about the decision.

Do you think high school athletes should be paid?

Posted by KSLA News 12 on Thursday, April 7, 2022

“No, they need to play ball and make those high school memories. If you wanna’ make money, get a job,” said one viewer, Bobby Bryant.

And Tiffany Belk, who also commented on the post, said, “Absolutely not.”

But there are some who do think it’s a good idea, like Steven Bentzler, who said, “It would be nice to help pay for college.”

KSLA spoke with Caddo Parish school leaders, who say the choice lies with student-athletes and their families to actually take part.

“Like other LHSAA policies what an opinion is really doesn’t hold a lot of water because they’re going to make a ruling and then we are all going to live in that ruling. So whether we are for it, against it, or otherwise its here and so now we as a district have to figure out how do we make this work so that our student athletes are not held at a disadvantage. We don’t want to have a position that would allow our students to not have the same opportunities may allow their students to have,” said Anthony Tisdale, athletic director for Caddo Parish Public Schools.

He says athletics leaders within the district are on board to help student-athletes navigate the educational programming and toolbox that Eccker Sports is providing for those who want to participate.

“They have not created a policy, they just said that there position is that they would support it and allow it to happen. So once the LHSAA makes that ruling Caddo Parish Public schools will operate within those realms and figure out a policy that works for Caddo parish students that doesnt put them at a disadvantage,” said Tisdale.

If approved, the courses are required for all school principals and athletic directors, while coaches, student-athletes, and their families throughout the state will also have access to the programming. The first course for the LHSAA NIL educational programming in partnership with Eccker Sports will launch May 1. The other courses will roll out shortly thereafter.

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