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Two football players running, one in front with a ball.

The University of Missouri’s Ennis Rackestraw, who signed a lucrative NIL deal in 2021, chases a University of Tennessee player down the field.

Jamie Squire/Staff/Getty Images Sport

Missouri lawmakers have passed legislation amending the state’s rules around name, image and likeness payments for student athletes, allowing some to access the financial benefits before they even arrive on a college campus. 

The law will allow athletes to begin profiting from endorsement deals while still in high school—as long as they sign a letter of intent to attend a public university in Missouri. Passed by the state Legislature in May and signed by Governor Mike Parsons yesterday, it will take effect Aug. 28, as the fall semester—and football season—gets underway.

The new rule could incentivize some of Missouri’s top talent to remain in their home state, helping to “close down the borders and keep Missouri’s best athletes in the state of Missouri,” as state representative Kurtis Gregory put it. 

It also makes Missouri one of the least restrictive NIL environments in the country, joining the likes of California and Arkansas in allowing high schoolers to get on the NIL gravy train. 

The new law would also allow Missouri universities—namely, the University of Missouri, whose Division I athletics program is the primary beneficiary of the rule change—to fundraise directly through its Tiger Scholarship Fund instead of a third-party collective, allowing donors to make tax-deductible donations for the express purpose of NIL deals.

The change comes amid an ongoing cavalcade of state legislation governing the controversial NIL landscape, as major athletics programs jockey to attract talent and others worry about an uneven playing field in the absence of federal regulation.