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Does Tim Tebow know? Florida bill would allow college athletes to cash in

House Bill 251 would allow student athletes to be compensated through endorsement deals that use their names, images and likeness.
Rep. Kionne McGhee, D- Miami. [SCOTT KEELER | Times] [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Oct. 1
Updated Oct. 1

House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee wants college student-athletes in Florida to be able to cash in on their names and images, similar to a measure that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Monday.

McGhee, D-Miami, has filed a proposal (HB 251) for the 2020 legislative session that would allow Florida college and university athletes to be compensated through endorsement deals that use their names, images and likenesses.

RELATED STORY: Tim Tebow draws national criticism after saying collegiate athletes shouldn’t be paid

“The NCAA regularly earns more than $1 billion per year, but these student athletes aren’t allowed to accept a bag of groceries,” McGhee said in a Sept. 20 release announcing his bill. “Many of these kids aren’t from families that can afford to send them money, but they’re sports superstars and household names. That’s not fair. It’s time we allowed these adults the ability to earn a living for themselves and their families while they make a fortune for others and entertain millions of fans.”

McGhee added, “The insistence that college athletes follow a strict definition of being ‘non-professionals’ is a holdover from decades ago and doesn’t accurately reflect modern college athletics.”

NCAA President Mark Emmert, along with other members of the organization’s board of governors, lobbied against the California proposal, contending in a Sept. 11 letter to Newsom that “member schools are already working on changing rules for all student-athletes to appropriately use their name, image and likeness in accordance with our values — but not to pay them to play.”

The letter also said, “If the bill becomes law and California’s 58 NCAA schools are compelled to allow an unrestricted name, image and likeness scheme, it would erase the critical distinction between college and professional athletics and, because it gives those schools an unfair recruiting advantage, would result in them eventually being unable to compete in NCAA competitions.”

Florida’s 2020 legislative session starts Jan. 14.

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