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Connecticut News

Under new policy, high school athletes in Connecticut can profit from sponsorship deals

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Earlier this month, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference instituted a policy change that would allow high school athletes to profit financially from their name, image and likeness.

These are similar to the name-image-likeness guidelines that were put in place for college athletes across the country last summer. Connecticut joined 10 other states that allow high school athletes to profit from such activities.

WSHU’s Mike Lyle spoke with Glenn Lungarini, the conference’s executive director, about the policy, a game-changer for interscholastic athletics in Connecticut.

WSHU: What led to this change, and why make this decision before schools are set to recess for the summer?

GL: The reason for the change is, when name, image and likeness came out, it was a very new concept. You know, we waited for the college space and for Connecticut legislation to take time to look at what this would look like in Connecticut. And once that the NCAA had established their name, image and likeness policy, they are the standard setter for amateurism guidelines in sports.

So, now that that was a concept and part of the amateur landscape, we felt that it was important as a state association for us to take a look at this new concept, and our amateurism rules did not address name, image and likeness at all.

We reviewed it with our legal counsel, we looked at the NCAA policies, we looked at Connecticut general statute and came up with the language that we have that was very much consistent with what our colleagues across the country were looking at. In fact, our starting point was actually language that was developed in New Jersey. And so we took that as a starting point for us here in Connecticut, in looking at it as well.

So, our policy has changed, our policy has been updated to include the concept of name, image and likeness, which was new to amateurism rules.

WSHU: What kind of impact will this new change have on student-athletes, and what sports will benefit from this change?

GL: It's hard to forecast what impact it may have at this time. We'll go just on what we know from the past year. Again, this isn't new. We actually took this action back in the winter. So, we've had the policy in place for about a half a year now, but across the country, I'm not aware of any high school athlete that has signed a name, image and likeness deal.

Again, we don't see this as something that will significantly change the landscape of high school sports, but because it is new, having the language down and having a basis for us to go from if a conversation comes up to make sure that a student-athlete does not violate their amateur status, whether it's with the CIAC or with the NCAA, it’s important to protect the interests of the student-athletes that we serve.

WSHU: Are you surprised by seeing how much attention this has received since the policy change was announced?

GL: Well, I didn't think we'd see a pandemic either. So, we've come to expect the unexpected, I think, but this has been a long time in the making. I think, if you look back at the collegiate level, some challenges in terms of concerns of equity, on the collegiate level, as well as within gaming worlds, looking at different video games use of the name, image and likeness of college athletes in their games and being able to benefit off of that, but the kids themselves not being able to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness has really set the groundwork for this.

And so I think this has been coming for quite some time. So we're not as surprised that it's come and that it's here. The best thing that we can do is try to understand it the best we can, as this becomes a concept and be prepared for those discussions if and when they need to take place.