Summit's soccer champion Coach of the Year sees other, higher priorities
(Update: Adding comments from OSAA, Summit soccer coach)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon School Activities Association Executive Board is considering allowing high school athletes to benefit from name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.
The Summit boys soccer team took home the state title last month. Head Coach Joe Locascio took home Coach of the Year and senior Nani Deperro took home Player of the Year.
But if Deperro could take home a check or some gear, should he? Locascio isn’t sure.
“I think it might, or it could have the possibility of taking away from what sports are." Locasio said. "I mean, we’ve got plenty of places in our world where we can make money. Do we need to make it on kids?”
OSAA is looking into the possibility of high school athletes being eligible for deals through name, image and likeness, or NIL.
NIL started in colleges for the first time this year, allowing athletes to sign endorsements, brand or sponsorship deals.
Mountain View High alum and Oregon Duck Cam McCormick was able to benefit from a fundraiser created by a fan, because of NIL.
So far, California and New York have adopted the same rules for high school athletes.
Whether that will happen in Oregon, OSAA executive director Peter Weber told NewsChannel 21, "The discussions with the board have been brief ... we've reviewed what some other states have done in this area and plan to bring in more information for them to look at. We would gather input from member schools prior to any final recommendations being made."
Locascio says he can see some positives, such as a deal providing shoes for every player in the state.
But he fears it would only benefit a select few.
“You look at the four teams that were in the semifinals and you go, its affluent areas. Those are wealthier areas, their kids have opportunities they aren’t burdened by the financial stresses that many have,” Locascio said. “And you go, 'Is that going to create even further of a divide in the state than there already is?'”
I spoke to other coaches in Central Oregon who expressed fear of recruiting issues, athletes moving between districts and concerns if it will take away from the purity of high school sports.
“There's a community and a chemistry that I think goes a very long way, especially in the high school world that --again, does it get muddied?” Locascio said.
Locascio's not sure if high school NIL will ever happen in Oregon, but he thinks there are bigger priorities to be handled first.
“Not every kid has an opportunity -- that's not okay,” Locascio said. “If you want to play soccer, you should have an opportunity somewhere. So those types of things, in my opinion, would go before we monetize the top 5 percent of basketball and football players in the state.”