The Florida Senate voted unanimously to repeal the state’s name, image and likeness (NIL) law Friday, sending the bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk.
The 34-0 vote on the Senate floor means the bill, HB 7B, went through two committees and both chambers in this week’s special session without a single vote against it.
“We’ve done the part to push the NCAA to stop abdicating their responsibility back to the states,” said Sen. Corey Simon, the former Florida State football star. “And we’re now putting it on the universities to educate our kids at what their best practices are going forward.”
The bill is intended to fix a perceived disadvantage for Florida schools and their athletes caused by the current structure.
Florida was one of the first states to vote to allow its college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness when the law passed in 2020. But it included some restrictions. Teams and coaches, for example, can’t facilitate players’ deals.
Some states never passed NIL laws. Others, including Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina, have repealed, suspended or loosened them. All three of those states have big-name programs that compete for recruits against programs like Florida and Florida State.
Sen. Travis Hutson (R-Palm Coast) said the tighter regulations put Florida schools “behind the 8-ball,” so removing them is necessary to keep up. If DeSantis signs the bill into law, state teams and athletes will only have to follow NCAA rules, which still prohibit direct payments to players and using name, image and likeness deals as inducements for retention or recruitment.
“In my opinion, we in the state of Florida (don’t) want to keep coming back and chasing the NCAA every time they make new rules and new decisions, and they made some as recently as a couple weeks ago,” Hutson said during a morning rules committee meeting. “So this bill just says we’re going to follow the NCAA, but more importantly be on an even playing field with the rest of the nation as it relates to what other states are doing.”
Simon, a Tallahassee Republican, said the change would remove Florida’s disadvantages while the NCAA “makes the changes necessary to bring college football into the 21st century.”
“There’s more work to be done, and I look forward to seeing the NCAA as they come under new leadership to step forward and make those necessary changes,” Simon said. “They’ve abdicated their responsibility far too often. Now’s the time for them to step up and see the athlete for what it is …”
The bill also requires schools to add a second workshop for players on issues like financial literacy, entrepreneurship and life skills. Most of the lawmakers who spoke about the bill this week focused on this point because they said will help students as they enter their professional careers (in athletics or another field).
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The bill’s third component provides liability protection for coaches and schools if their routine decisions (like benching or suspending a player) affect that athlete’s name, image and likeness deals.
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