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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs effective repeal of Florida name, image and likeness law

The new law is intended to put Florida schools on a level playing field with other states.
 
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an effective repeal of the state's name, image and likeness law Thursday in front of a group of Gators and Florida State athletes.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an effective repeal of the state's name, image and likeness law Thursday in front of a group of Gators and Florida State athletes. [ Courtesy of Executive Office of the Governor ]
Published Feb. 16, 2023|Updated Feb. 16, 2023

Florida shed any competitive disadvantages in name, image and likeness (NIL) Thursday when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an effective repeal of the state’s law. Schools and coaches will no longer be barred from causing NIL money to go to players or facilitating endorsements for their athletes.

“It’s definitely a game changer in the NIL space,” said Joe Hernandez, whose sports marketing firm, Just Win Management, represents Florida State stars Jordan Travis and Trey Benson. “I just think the key word here is ‘progress.’”

Related: What will Florida effectively repealing its name, image and likeness law actually do?

Lawmakers believed the progress was necessary because the name, image and likeness marketplace has changed drastically since DeSantis signed the original law in 2020. Florida’s law was one of the first in the country and pushed the NCAA to act.

But the NCAA’s guidelines ended up being looser than Florida’s law. Other nearby states — some of which compete against Florida teams on the field and in recruiting — could act with fewer restrictions.

“These other states have passed us by,” DeSantis said in a ceremony with members of the Gators and Seminoles, including head football coaches Billy Napier and Mike Norvell. “This’ll put us at parity, I think, with the rest of the country, which is good.”

How much of a competitive disadvantage Florida schools faced was open to debate. Napier said earlier this month that he didn’t think the law has been an issue, but FSU athletic director Michael Alford said last year that state programs “can’t compete” with others.

The point became moot Thursday; the change took effect with DeSantis’ signature.

Related: How can we prevent another Jaden Rashada-Florida Gators situation?

The bill, HB 7B, breezed through the recent legislative special session without a single vote against it, either in committee meetings or on the floor of the House and Senate. It was formally presented to the governor Wednesday.

Specifically, the new law ends a provision about schools, teams or coaches causing money to go to athletes. They will still not be able to pay players directly or use name, image and likeness deals as inducements for recruiting or retention; those are still against NCAA rules. However, teams and coaches will now be able to help facilitate deals for players.

“We are thankful for the Governor and the legislature for making this NIL bill a reality,” Gators athletic director Scott Stricklin said. “We continue to be appreciative of all opportunities that our athletes have to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. NIL is a key ingredient to the Gators’ current and future success, and UF is fortunate to have a passionate and engaging fan base that cares about the success of our athletes.”

Supporters of the change argued that it was necessary because Florida’s law was more restrictive than what the NCAA and some other states allowed. That created a possible competitive disadvantage in recruiting for the schools and could have caused players to lose out on NIL deals.

“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,” one of its sponsors, Sen. Travis Hutson, said during one of the special-session committee meetings.

Sen. Travis Hutson (left) helped lead the legislative charge to change Florida's name, image and likeness law.
Sen. Travis Hutson (left) helped lead the legislative charge to change Florida's name, image and likeness law. [ PHIL SEARS | AP ]

The new law has two other notable components. It provides liability protection from coaches or teams whose routine decisions (like benching or suspending a player) inadvertently affect that athlete’s NIL deals. It also requires schools to add a second workshop for players about financial literacy, life skills and entrepreneurship.

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