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Should La. high school athletes profit under the new NIL rules?

The LHSAA says its student-athletes can’t profit under the new rules levied by Gov. John Bel...
The LHSAA says its student-athletes can’t profit under the new rules levied by Gov. John Bel Edwards.(Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV | WAFB)
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:42 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As college athletes start cashing in checks from endorsement deals, circles around Louisiana high school sports are starting to wonder if the opportunity should be extended to high schoolers.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association says its student-athletes can’t profit under the new rules levied by Gov. John Bel Edwards. According to bylaw 1.25 of the LHSAA handbook, no student shall, at any time, receive any salary or financial compensation, except actual expenses.

The rules might say one thing, but Atlanta Falcons star and former LSU Tiger Russell Gage, Jr. is wondering if it’s time for a change.

“That gives guys and kids opportunities to help feed their families. You know there are moms working several jobs, but if the kid could help bring in some profit off their image, then why not,” said Gage.

LSU wide receiver Russel Gage Jr. (83) catches a touchdown pass against Auburn on Oct. 14, 2017.
LSU wide receiver Russel Gage Jr. (83) catches a touchdown pass against Auburn on Oct. 14, 2017.(Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)

It’s a sentiment shared by parents of some of the top-talent in the state.

“I think it would be an interesting situation for them, I think it would be beneficial for some of them, especially those who are in difficult economic situations and have an opportunity to capitalize on the work they’re putting in,” said Christina Lockett-Anderson.

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Trainers and coaches can sense where this is going, but some are against the idea for now.

“I think it would be more of a distraction for them versus a college kid that’s already went through the recruiting process and made a college decision. I think that’s where my hesitation is at,” said Kenneth Anio.

Anio, an athletic trainer around the Baton Rouge area, says players that young don’t have the financial know-how to manage money that would come from endorsements, and if players start missing games it could be detrimental to schools.

“The focus would go off the high school program. You would have so many distractions for those high school kids. You may have some shuffling around from different high schools that I think it would open up a can of worms,” said Anio.

He says until those problems are addressed, the rules should stay.

“College kids opting out last year, I think it’ll become that for the high school athlete. You know I’m going to opt-out, I’m going to skip my junior season, senior season and get ready to focus on the next level instead of taking care of the task that’s in front of them,” said Anio.

LHSAA’s Director of Communications Vincent Cacioppo says he does expect this topic to come up at their next board meeting.

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