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Member schools reject Name, Image, & Likeness proposal at WIAA Annual Meeting

04/24/2024, 1:00pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

At Wednesday's WIAA Annual Meeting, the member schools voted down a proposal that would have allowed high school athletes to profit off of Name, Image, and Likeness opportunities. Still, the 219-170 vote against the plan is likely not the last we will hear of this topic.

NIL was one of three Constitutional Amendments that the member schools voted on at the meeting, with the other two passing overwhelmingly.

By a margin of 381-9 in support, a proposal passed that will allow high school coaches more opportunities to work with athletes in eighth grade and below, during the school year but outside the sports season.

It was nearly unanimous on the second amendment of the day, with limited, specific use of video replay to appeal ejections and subsequent suspensions due to misidentification of a player passing 387-1.

Still, it was the NIL proposal that garnered the most discussion and debate leading up to and at the Annual Meeting. Adopted in more than 30 states currently, the WIAA's language would have allowed students to participate in Name, Image, and Likeness commercial endorsements, with some limitations. Students would not have been able to use school, conference, or WIAA logos or uniforms, or promote prohibited activities such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, etc. Influencing athletes to transfer or attend a particular schools would have been disallowed as well.

Many administrators who spoke at the meeting and to WSN in recent days expressed hesitancy about how NIL could impact high school athletics, and how it would be monitored, interpreted, and enforced.

While the measure was defeated today, it is certainly not the last we will hear of this topic. With the majority of states allowing NIL, including most of the bordering states, it will continue to be a topic of discussion. The WIAA has indicated that there is a strong chance that the state legislature and/or courts could weigh in on the matter also, as we've seen elsewhere. Some of the states that currently allow NIL at the high school level were mandated by state government.

Also at today's WIAA Annual Meeting, Executive Director Stephanie Hauser provided her Director's Report to the membership, the Spirit of Sport recipients were recognized, and an open forum session allowed schools to provide feedback and concerns about topics facing high school sports. Among the topics discussed during open forum were: competitive balance, 8-player football postseason, code violations, boys basketball divisional placement, season length, coach contact, and electronic seeding.

The two constitutional amendments passed today will go into effect upon the publication of the next WIAA Bulletin, likely in mid- to late-May.

About the Author

Travis Wilson serves as the General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball), inducted to the Richland Center High School Hall of Fame in 2023, and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.

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