The Florida legislature will consider a bill to repeal almost all of the state’s name, image and likeness (NIL) law during this week’s special session so the Gators, Seminoles, Bulls and other state teams “can remain competitive.”
Among the parts of the current law the proposal would remove:
• A provision that name, image and likeness deals must be commensurate with “market value.”
• A provision that says NIL money “may not be provided in exchange for athletic performance or attendance at a particular institution” and must be done by a third party.
• A clause that says schools, coaches, boosters and other related entities “may not compensate or cause compensation to be directed to” a current player or recruit for name, image and likeness.
State schools will still have to follow NCAA rules, which prohibit both pay-for-play deals and direct payments from schools to players for name, image and likeness.
This proposal, filed by Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) goes even farther than one filed last month in the House by Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point). The original House bill focused, in part, on allowing schools and coaches to facilitate deals.
The issue made its way into the special session because the name, image and likeness landscape has changed drastically since the state passed its law in 2020. Florida’s guardrails are more restrictive than some nearby states like Alabama and Tennessee.
“(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,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo wrote in a memo last week. “While college sports are not high on my list of priorities when compared with the many other serious issues we must address each session, sporting events do contribute greatly to our local economies and the sense of community in many parts of the state; therefore, I recognize the need to address this issue in a timely manner, so our university teams can remain competitive.”
Opinions differ on how much (if at all) state law is hurting Florida programs. Florida State athletic director Michael Alford said last year that the state “can’t compete” in name, image and likeness. Last week, Gators coach Billy Napier said Florida’s law is different but has not been “an issue.”
The bill includes two other notable tweaks. The first says a school or coach isn’t liable for name, image and likeness damages “resulting from decisions and actions routinely taken” during college athletics. An example raised at a committee meeting: a coach who benches an athlete isn’t liable if that athlete loses a sponsorship deal because of a lack of playing time.
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The other tweak requires schools to add a second, more rigorous workshop on financial literacy, life skills and entrepreneurship before a player graduates.
The bill is expected to be discussed Wednesday afternoon by the House’s education and employment committee.