Revamping NIL In Florida
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Less than three years after Florida enacted a law to help athletes and universities get a head start in the profitable NIL space, now the legislature is ramping up efforts to make sure those groups don’t get left behind.
When the State House and Senate convene next week for a two-week session, one of the main topics tackled will be revamping Florida’s existing NIL law.
“In 2020, Florida was proactive in creating legislation which governs how college athletes can be compensated for use of their names, images and likenesses,” House Speaker Paul Renner wrote in a Friday memo to House members and staff.
“However, the recent enactment of NCAA regulations regarding athlete compensation has put many states with such laws at a disadvantage, causing a need for Florida to revisit our current law. We recognize the need to address this issue in a timely manner so our collegiate teams can remain competitive.”
The 2020 Florida law made it permissible for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, but it prohibited coaches, staff and other representatives of universities from being part of the process.
That became an issue when the NCAA subsequently ruled that all athletes could earn money from NIL deals as long as they followed their state laws, which meant those in Florida and a handful of other states would actually be at a disadvantage.
Several states promptly repealed their state laws once that happened, but two bills in Florida stalled during the 2022 session.
The new House legislation will be referred to the Education and Employment Committee, according to Renner’s memo. The Senate version will go to the Post-Secondary Education Committee.
Virtually, all college coaches claim it has led to widespread tampering and even more illegal recruiting than usual, and many programs worry about the effect it is having on locker room chemistry.
At the same time, people also believe it is long overdue that college athletes have the right to earn money through marketing agreements and other above-board business opportunities.
The proposal by Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, would align Florida law with those in other states with schools that compete with Florida universities, which generated $1.1 billion dollars in revenue last year, according to a House analysis.
This Bill would allow schools to set up space on campus for NIL entities to meet athletes and for university employees to introduce athletes to companies willing to pay them to use their name and likeness.
When the NCAA issued new NIL guidelines last October to allow schools to have a more active role in connecting athletes with NIL entities, Florida schools — such as the University of Florida, University of Central Florida and Florida State University — suddenly found themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
The Bill specifically states that a school is not required to identify or facilitate NIL opportunities for students, or that an NIL deal qualifies a student as a university employee.
Also, they amended the proposal shielding schools and coaches from liability related to damages resulting from routine decisions — like benching a player — because schools have sovereign immunity.
The proposal has two more committee stops before it is introduced to the House floor.
As always, the unintended consequences could be problematic. On its face, it’s much better they are in charge of managing the brand and not relying on outside or non-auditable parties.
You have to assume that this will lead to some sort of mutually agreed salary cap by conferences at some point down the road.
I believe this will have universities explaining why they are not using new TV revenues and other income sources to pony up for 5 stars, rather than asking their alumni/booster base to take on the additional burden of NIL.