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Johnuel "Boogie" Fland poses for a portrait on the basketball court at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., Monday, May 2, 2022. Fland is among a growing number of high school athletes who have signed sponsorship deals for their name, image and likeness following a Supreme Court decision last year that allowed similar deals for college athletes. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Ian Jackson and Johnuel "Boogie" Fland are among the brightest stars in the firmament of high school basketball and now have business deals to prove it.

The New York City teens and friendly rivals are cashing in on their name, image and likeness through marketing contracts often referred to as NIL deals. The contracts have begun to trickle down to the high school level after the NCAA's decision last year to allow college athletes to monetize their stardom.

Seven states have so far approved the deals for prep athletes. Other states, such as Ohio, continue to debate whether NILs would sully high school sports.

Jackson and Fland, both of whom are ranked as top college prospects for the 2024 graduating class, are paid a percentage of sales on a merchandise company's products carrying their likeness and four-figure monthly checks to post about the brand on social media.

Jackson, 16, said he is saving the money he earns from the merchandise company Spreadshop and several other deals to buy a home for his family.

"I want to put my family in a better place," Jackson said.

Fland, 15, also said he wants to help his family.

"It's been a very big deal," he said. "All the hard work is finally paying off."

In Ohio, high school principals began voting May 1 on whether to change the state high school athletic association's bylaws to allow athletes to sign deals.

"A lot of us here at the OHSAA and school administrators don't like NIL," said Ohio High School Athletic Association spokesperson Tim Stried. "We wish we weren't having to deal with this, but it's not going away. We can have a hand in shaping it or do what the NCAA did and fight it until otherwise."

Karissa Niehoff, CEO of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said NIL rights for high school athletes could prove disruptive, but she tempered her criticism, saying, "I don't think we're going to see a lot of this."

High school, Niehoff said, "is not intended to be an opportunity to earn a living, and we hope it will stay that way."

The issue of NIL deals for high school athletes follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June that said the NCAA cannot restrict education-related compensation benefits for the country's nearly 500,000 college student-athletes. Since then, Alaska, California, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana and Utah have created laws or policies allowing NIL compensation for high school athletes.

Jackson, who attends Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, is represented by his AAU coach. Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, New York, has hired a marketing consultant to help Fland and other students at the school with NIL deals.

Generally, college and high school athletes can use sports agents to market their name, image and likeness, but they are not permitted to hire agents to represent them professionally without endangering their eligibility. The standard fee for marketing agents is 15-20% of an athlete's NIL deal.

High school athletic associations in states where NIL deals are permitted bar students from using their school names and team logos in the deals they strike.

According to the latest data gathered by Opendorse Deals, a company that its officials say have helped connect 100,000 college athletes with third parties for NIL deals, the average payout has been small thus far. Division I athletes with at least one deal have earned about $664 on average, according to the data. For Division II athletes, it's $59 and just $43 in Division III.

Nearly 70% of deals involve social media posts, the Opendorse data shows.

 

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