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Get the latest coverage of the 2023 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Florida wants to level the playing field in NIL when it comes to student-athlete compensation

 FAMU wins its season rivalry football game against Bethune Cookman University, 2022 (file photo).
Will Brown
/
Used with permission
FAMU wins its season rivalry football game against Bethune Cookman University, 2022 (file photo).

Florida's original name, image and likeness law bans colleges and universities from steering deals to athletes. State lawmakers will soon lift that ban.

Florida was once a leader in allowing college athletes to be paid. The state’s original name, image and likeness law came before the NCAA passed wide-ranging rules paving the way for those athletes to receive corporate sponsorships. Now Florida lawmakers are lifting some of those early restrictions in order to make the state’s collegiate programs more competitive.

Republican Senator Travis Hutson’s bill lets public universities and colleges help their athlete's secure name, image and likeness deals.

“Our current regulatory structure, while well-meaning, has prevented our colleges and universities from recruiting and retaining student-athletes. The bill does three things. It repeals NIL to put Florida on an even playing field," Hutson said while describing the purpose of the bill.

Florida passed its original NIL law in July of 2021, becoming one of the first states to pave the way for college athletes to be paid. The move came amid growing public pressure on the NCAA to change its rules on athlete compensation. The collegiate sports governing body did, eventually. In 2022, it finalized its college athlete pay policy — allowing them to benefit commercially from their names, images and likenesses. That NCAA policy also allowed institutions to get involved in steering NIL deals to their players — which, Florida’s law specifically banned.

Miami Democratic Senator Shevrin Jones is excited about that ban finally being lifted.

“I like the bill. I’m fine with it," Jones said, adding "I just want to see the intent with the removal of liability from the institutions.”

The bill would release public institutions of being responsible for college athletes who get into trouble and may lose their NIL deals.

“So if they get caught drinking underage, DUI — if they get suspended and it affects their NIL deal because of their suspension, they can’t go back and sue the university for something they did off the field," said Hutson.

The measure expands a requirement that college athletes undergo financial literacy training. A ban on pay-for-play also remains intact.
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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.