SDHSAA tables name, image, likeness amendment; recruiting rule advances

SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said the standards set forth in the amendment were taken from rules already in place in North Dakota, Iowa and Kansas.

Mitchell Republic file photo

PIERRE — At its annual meeting on Wednesday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association decided to table a constitutional amendment outlining how athletes could be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness.

Currently, the SDHSAA constitution says that an athlete’s image or a personal appearance cannot be used to promote a commercial or profit-making event. The tabled amendment clarifies the rules for student-athletes who seek to be paid for the use of their name, likeness, image or for a personal appearance.

According to the amendment,

  • the activity must not interfere with academic obligations;
  • remuneration must not be tied to athletic performance such as pay to play;
  • the remuneration must not be used to induce an athlete to attend a particular school;
  • the remuneration must not be provided by the school or agents of the school like booster clubs or foundations;
  • SDHSAA or a member school’s marks or logos must not be used nor the school’s name or mascot;
  • member school uniforms must not be worn or displayed and member school facilities must not be used;
  • SDHSAA or member school awards or trophies must not be displayed;
  • and students must not promote or endorse activities associated with alcohol, tobacco, vaping, controlled substances, gambling, banned athletic substances or other illegal substances or activities. 

SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos said the standards set forth in the amendment were taken from rules already in place in North Dakota, Iowa and Kansas.
“This is not an easy subject,” Swartos said, noting much of it rests on the semantics of whether a student is allowing his likeness to be used as a student or as an athlete. 

A violation of the name, image and likeness rule can cause a player to lose his or her amateur standing, a consequence that will keep them from competing in high school athletics. It’s important, said board member Eric Denning of Mount Vernon, “to make sure you’re not jeopardizing your amateur standing.” 


Swartos cited one study that said nationwide, less than 1% of high school athletes would be involved in a name, image or likeness business deals.

“We’re talking about a very small percentage of kids,” Swartos said. 

Board member Jeff Danielsen of Watertown said he wondered if making such a rule would eventually lead to having the problem of policing name, image and likeness cases.

“I’d like to think there’s not a lot of under-the-table money being passed around,” Danielsen said. 

Pierre Activities Director Brian Moser said it would ultimately be up to schools to police violations of the policy. He said it would add to the challenge schools face as they try to recruit coaches. 

Moser said he would be the one who would have to tell a student who broke the rules that he would no longer be able to play football.

“I don’t want to be that person,” Moser said.  

SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director Randy Soma said the association would likely have to start some sort of registration process for students who sell their name, image or likeness. If they’re registered, Soma said, the association could catch it before they made a mistake and lost their amateur standing. 


The association decided to table the amendment and continue working on the subject.

Schools to vote on recruitment, game ejection amendments

At its annual meeting Wednesday, the South Dakota High School Activities Association offered member schools two constitutional amendments that they must vote on by May 31. 

The amendments deal with prohibitions on schools recruiting students and clearing up the standards for how long senior athletes must sit out after a game ejection. 

The recruitment prohibition amendment seeks to add language in the constitution about “other inducements” and “other undue influence” as it defines what those terms mean. It also adds penalties for schools and coaches for violations of the policy. 

“It seemed odd that the only specific reference to penalties was just students,” said SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos. “It takes two to tango on these types of things.” 

Currently, member schools may not offer scholarships, free tuition, free bus transportation or free school lunch to try to recruit a student. The amendment clarifies “other inducements” as prohibiting school personnel or non-school individuals from offering jobs or housing to parents, residential relocation offers, promotional efforts, promises of playing time, financial aid to parents or students or any other benefit not authorized by SDHSAA guidelines. 

In the amendment, “other undue influence” is described as texts, emails, letters, cards or questionnaires sent to student athletes, their families or their guardians designed to persuade the student to change schools; invitations to summer camps or open gyms; or contact of any kind designed to persuade the athlete to switch schools. 

Penalties for breaking the recruitment rules include suspension of a school or program from regular season or post-season play, suspension of a coach from all coaching activities or the banning of parents/alumni/supporters from attendance at sanctioned activities. 


“We had an accusation of this (recruitment) in the last year,” Swartos said, noting that recruitment is difficult to prove since students are allowed one school transfer. “It’s really hard to prove any of this.” 

The amendment on ejections seeks to clarify a senior athlete’s eligibility if an ejection occurs in the final contest of the season. Currently, the SDHSAA constitution calls for a student or coach ejected from a contest to be ineligible for participation in the next contest. A second ejection makes the athlete or coach ineligible for the next four contests and a third ejection means ineligibility for the remainder of the season. 

In the case of a senior athlete ejected in the last contest of a season, the amendment allows that the athlete’s ineligibility would carry over to the next scheduled varsity contest in any sport where the student has previously established team membership. 

Swartos said there was an incident this year in which a senior athlete who belonged to both the soccer team and the football team was ejected from his last soccer game. When the association sought to bar the student from his next football game, it was served with a temporary restraining order and the student played in that game. 

In order for an amendment to pass, it must be endorsed by 60% of the SDHSAA member schools that cast ballots.

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