* Drew Griffith at New Balance Nationals Outdoor
Photo Credit: MileSplit
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Drew Griffith highlighted a second wave of big-time high school athletes to sign a Name, Image and Likeness deal with New Balance on Tuesday, becoming the latest star prep to ink with the shoe brand.
It was a long time coming.
But more on that later.
Griffith, a highly-touted Notre Dame signee, is coming off a national championship win at Foot Locker Nationals in December.
Here's how the signing happened.
About three months after college recruiters stopped calling on the Butler High School senior following his verbal commitment to Notre Dame, there was an unexpected knock on his front door.
This "visitor" came as a complete surprise to the Pennsylvania state cross country champion.
"I was out in Flagstaff (Ariz.) training and they gave my mom a call and said we're interested in pursuing an NIL with Drew," he said of New Balance. "When I heard the news, I was super excited.
"New Balance has been my pretty much (my) go-to brand of running shoes. It's always been a dream of mine. If I had to choose one brand (to represent), it definitely would be New Balance."
About a month later, just before sloshing his way to victory at the PIAA Foundation Invitational, Griffith signed that NIL agreement with the Boston-based shoe brand.
"To be honest, it was like a dream to maybe get an NIL before college or even in college," Griffith said. "Seeing some of those big names get recognized by brands, wow, that would be really cool to make that happen one day."
Griffith joins the likes of Sadie Engelhardt, Daniel Simmons and Quincy Wilson, all high schoolers who previously signed with New Balance in September. Georgetown freshman Tinoda Matsatsa, who became the first Black American high school athlete to break four minutes in the mile in 2023, signed with New Balance at the same time.
Pennsylvania's History with NIL Deals
Griffith joins a short list of Pennsylvania high school athletes who have inked NIL agreements since the PIAA approved such deals in early December 2022.
State law was changed back in June 2021 with the signing of Senate Bill 381 by then Gov. Tom Wolf, enabling all Pennsylvania student-athletes -- high school or college -- to receive compensation for the use of their Name, Image or Likeness.
Pennsylvania was the 21st state to have an NIL policy approved to allow high schoolers to earn money through endorsements or other relationships and retain their amateur status. Former Laurel Highlands multi-sport standout Rodney Gallagher became the first prep in the state to announce an NIL relationship just hours after the PIAA board approved the framework.
PIAA rules do not allow the wearing of school-identifying apparel in any NIL-related work, along with representing prohibited products and services such as alcohol or gambling. Violating these and other restrictions would affect an athlete's eligibility, potentially permanently.
Athletes are required to notify their high school officials within 72 hours of signing an NIL deal, said Mark Byers, PIAA's chief operating officer. A high school with an NIL-signed athlete then informs the Pennsylvania State Athletic Comission of the arrangement. Commission officials did not return calls for information about the number of NIL agreements by preps signed since the PIAA's approval.
More About Griffith's Deal
The cross country season recently completed by Griffith is arguably the finest ever by a Pennsylvania athlete, with the performances turned in by Ringgold senior and future Irish teammate Ryan Pajak equally as impressive.
In a season dotted with course record performances and huge margins of victory, Griffith and Pajak finished second to each other just once, with Griffith's one-up being in their 1-2 last month at the Foot Locker finale in San Diego.
The first group of New Balance signees included preps Sadie Engelhardt, Quincy Wilson, Daniel Simmons and Ali Ince and now Georgetown freshman Tinoda Matsatsa.
Griffith's NIL agreement runs through August of this year, with terms not disclosed.