WATCH: Heritage Head Football Coach Mykel Benson Speaks on NIL, Panthers Success Last Season

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ABOVE VIDEO: Heritage Panthers Head Football Coach Mykel Benson spoke with Space Coast Daily Sports Editor Juan Rodriguez on the FHSAA’s recent NIL approval for High School athletes in Florida and the success Heritage Football had last season.

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida High School Athletic Association’s final scheduled Board of Directors Meeting for the 2023-24 school year.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Heritage Panthers head football coach Mykel Benson talked with Space Coast Daily Sports Editor Juan Rodriguez on the FHSAA’s recent NIL approval for high school athletes in Florida – and the success Heritage High football had last season.

The Florida High School Athletic Association on Tuesday opened the door for student-athletes to earn money from business agreements such as endorsement deals, with the organization’s president calling the move a “good starting point.”

The FHSAA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a seismic change in the organization’s bylaws to allow athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness, or NIL. The changes will be in effect for the upcoming school year.

Head football coaches from around Brevard County shared their opinions with Space Coast Daily’s Sports Editor Juan Rodriguez.

■ Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy Head Coach Hurlie Brown:

I believe the only NIL deals we will see will come from the local businesses. That’s where it should come from. Local businesses who are familiar with our local kids and want to help. Unless you are some megastar, no one abroad knows you so your likeness has no value.

But in your own hometown, you can easily be a well-known figure in the community. Therefore, have great marketing ability. There are a number of good people and businesses that would love to help kids. This gives them the proper and legal channels to do it!

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy Head Coach Hurlie Brown: I believe the only NIL deals we will see will come from the local businesses. That’s where it should come from. Local businesses who are familiar with our local kids and want to help. Unless you are some megastar, no one abroad knows you so your likeness has no value.

Heritage Panthers Head Coach Mykel Benson:

I think it really shows how much the state cares about coaches. Great for the kids but watch how many good coaches leave. A lot of apparel and NIL deals will happen not every kid will get paid, but there will be one.

It only takes one kid to make more than a coach and become disrespectful and that’s when it becomes a problem.

The updated regulations define “permissible activities” under the new NIL policy to include, but not be limited to, commercial endorsements, promotional activities, social media presence, and product or service advertisements.

WATCH PODCAST: Melbourne Central Catholic High School’s newly named head football coach Willie Tillman stopped by the Space Coast Daily TV studios in Cocoa to talk about his new job with Space Coast Daily Sports Editor Juan Rodriguez.

■ Melbourne Central Catholic Head Coach Willie Tillman:  

I think here in Brevard your local businesses will play a huge part cause most high school booster clubs are already doing a lot for the programs.

It cost a lot to run a good program and these booster clubs are being used to run them. So local businesses would pick up the NIL deals in my opinion.

Under the change, student-athletes and their parents or guardians would be required to “negotiate any NIL activities independent of their school, school district, or the FHSAA.” The board also agreed to allow high-school athletes to hire agents to assist them in navigating business deals — reversing course on a longstanding prohibition.

Change Will Bring Florida into “New Territory”

The revamped bylaws now allow for the hiring of “registered” agents only for the “purpose of advising on NIL related” matters.

The policy that was approved Tuesday has been in the works since February, and the board held multiple meetings to float language for the new rules.

Monica Colucci, a Miami-Dade County school-board member who is president of the FHSAA Board of Directors, said the change will bring Florida into “new territory.”

“So there are going to be hesitations, we are going to feel nervous. But I do really believe that this is going to put us on par with the rest of the country. We are going to have some things that we have to face as a board. And we will do so. Because I really believe we are very capable and we are going to do the right thing for students, always. That is our top priority,” Colucci said during Tuesday’s meeting in Gainesville.

As of October, 30 states and the District of Columbia allow high-school athletes to “receive NIL compensation,” according to the revamped bylaws approved Tuesday.

The Florida High School Athletic Association on Tuesday opened the door for student-athletes to earn money from business agreements such as endorsement deals, with the organization’s president calling the move a “good starting point.” (Tom Brackin image)

New NIL Rules Include Some Restrictions

Restrictions, for example, student-athletes will be prohibited from using their school’s logo, uniform or equipment in any NIL deals unless they are given written permission from the school, district or FHSAA.

Student-athletes also are banned from endorsing certain products, such as alcohol, tobacco, vaping, gambling, weapons, cannabis products and prescription drugs.

The FHSAA board also approved as part of the NIL rules a prohibition on endorsements related to “political or social activism.”

Another prohibition that has sparked debate within the FHSAA board is the barring of what are known as NIL “collectives” from being allowed under the policy. Collectives are funding organizations through which student-athlete compensation frequently is funneled.

Kimberly Richey, a senior chancellor with the Florida Department of Education who also is on the FHSAA board, has pushed to have the bylaws include a ban on collectives.

“I think what we’re doing is, we’re saying there cannot be any groups out there that exist to collect funds from donors to facilitate NIL deals for student athletes. That’s what a collective is. If you exist solely for that purpose, you cannot operate in Florida,” Richey said during Tuesday’s meeting.

As the new FHSAA bylaw changes stand to potentially change the landscape of school athletics, an introductory part of the policy notes that schools can educate student-athletes about the potential “drawbacks” of engaging in NIL deals.

Story continued below>>>

ABOVE VIDEO: The 15th episode of  “Space Coast Daily Sports Talk” with Juan Rodriguez and Zach Clark features members of the 2023 State Championship Cocoa Tigers football team at the Friday Night Locker Room Erdman Automotive TV Studios in Cocoa. This is the 29th season of high school football coverage for the principals of Space Coast Daily and the Friday Night Locker Room – brought to you by Erdman Automotive, Health First and All Points.

“The FHSAA supports NIL education, which prepares student-athletes to make informed decisions. By providing student-athletes with knowledge about potential legal and financial drawbacks associated with NIL activities, high schools can contribute to the overall welfare of their student-athletes,” the version of the bylaw changes approved by the board Tuesday said.

The revamped bylaws also state that student-athletes and their families “are encouraged to seek legal counsel and tax advice when considering NIL activity.”

Tuesday’s action comes several years after a similar change that has allowed collegiate-level athletes to make a profit. An initial NIL law related to colleges and universities went into effect in Florida in July 2021. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a subsequent measure that essentially expanded the state’s law to allow universities to become more involved in the NIL process.

Colucci reminded the FHSAA board on Tuesday that the high-school sports officials also can come back to the table to make changes to its NIL policy in the future.

“As the governing board, we can, as situations arise, we can tweak the bylaw. We can go back to it. We can revisit it as many times as we need to to make the modifications. But I do believe, as president of this organization, this is a very good starting point for us to move forward with,” Colucci said.

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