What you need to know before Florida’s name, image and likeness law takes effect July 1

“Everything is going into hyperdrive” as colleges, brands and athletes prepare for the massive change coming this summer.
The Gators and other athletes in the state will be able to make money off their name, image and likeness starting July 1.
The Gators and other athletes in the state will be able to make money off their name, image and likeness starting July 1. [ Times ]
Published May 17, 2021|Updated May 17, 2021

If you’re curious what college sports will look like on July 1 when Florida athletes can start making money off their name, image and likeness, you’re not alone.

A month and a half before this state’s groundbreaking legislation takes effect, parts of this new world remain unclear.

Here’s a primer on what we know, what we expect and what is still being figured out:

Related: Florida lawmakers reverse course on athlete compensation

What happens July 1?

College athletes in Florida and a handful of other states (including Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi) will be able to earn money from third parties for their name, image and likeness. Schools won’t pay them directly, but athletes will be able to profit from signing autographs, hosting camps or posting sponsored content on social media.

How will that happen?

Here’s one example from one of the dozens of firms involved in this space: At least one athlete from every state has already built a profile through a platform called Icon Source. On July 1, the profiles of Florida athletes will go live, allowing brands to connect directly with players about potential endorsements and prices. If the brand and athletes agree, Icon Source will be able to facilitate payment and disclose the deal to a player’s school.

“We are that marketplace where all student-athletes and all brands can live and engage with each other,” said Drew Butler, the company’s vice president, collegiate.

Related: We ranked all of Dan Mullen’s 12 starting QBs. Spoiler: Tim Tebow isn’t No. 1

Will we see a flood of deals immediately?

Probably not. TJ Ciro —the senior vice president, head of partnerships at another name, image and likeness firm, Opendorse — expects a few brands to launch targeted campaigns on July 1 around specific causes.

“The social media activations will happen right away,” said Ciro, whose company has relationships with Florida, Florida Atlantic and UCF. “The ability for kids to do autographs or provide appearances, that will happen right away.”

But those activations and autographs probably will start as a trickle before picking up throughout the summer and school year.

“I look at this as a beta test more than anything,” said Darren Heitner, the Fort Lauderdale attorney who helped draft Florida’s legislation. “We haven’t had an opportunity to test or really figure out what the market will look like.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida's name, image and likeness bill into law a year ago at a ceremony at the University of Miami.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida's name, image and likeness bill into law a year ago at a ceremony at the University of Miami. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP (2020) ]

What’s happening nationally?

Multiple bills have been filed in Congress to create federal regulations that would trump various state laws. But it’s unlikely any of them will be signed by July 1.

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The NCAA has been considering rule changes for more than a year but hasn’t yet voted on them. The NCAA has also not yet named a third-party administrator that could serve as a nationwide clearinghouse.

The uncertainty leaves schools and third parties preparing to follow Florida’s law while understanding that things could evolve quickly.

“We’ve just gotten a sense a lot of schools have been pressing pause to wait to see how the NCAA handles things…” Ciro said. “When that happens, the schools will move a lot quicker, the education will pick up and come July 1, there’s going to be a lot more activation.”

What must still be done between now and July 1?

A few key things, starting with schools finalizing their own rules and procedures.

“It really is now that sprint to make sure schools have a policy in place,” Ciro said.

One specific example: how players disclose deals to schools, as required under Florida’s law. Heitner had a conversation about that specific process with one athletic department official recently.

“It’s certainly on their minds,” Heitner said. “They’re taking it very seriously. They’re coming up with game plans, but they don’t necessarily have the complete structure in place here today, roughly 50 days out.”

Education remains ongoing for athletes. Opendorse, for instance, recently had someone from Twitter talk to players about how to grow their brand and monetize content.

Related: Florida’s early 2021 college football viewing guide

Firms like Icon Source are talking with everyone from marketers to athletic departments to be ready when the doors open this summer.

“Everything is going into hyperdrive with July 1 right around the corner,” Butler said.

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