Florida coaches, star QBs oppose name, image and likeness delay

The Florida Legislature’s transgender bill included a late amendment that postpones college athletes getting paid for another year.
Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton has spoken out via Twitter against a proposed delay in college athletes making money off their name, image and likeness. 
FSU Sports Information/Don Juan Moore
Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton has spoken out via Twitter against a proposed delay in college athletes making money off their name, image and likeness. FSU Sports Information/Don Juan Moore [ DON JUAN MOORE | FSU Sports Information ]
Published April 29, 2021|Updated April 29, 2021

When Florida legislators passed a ban on transgender athletes in women’s and girls sports Wednesday night, they also tucked in a three-line item that would have a massive impact on the state’s college athletes this year.

And the coaches of the state’s big three college football teams weren’t happy about it.

Related: Florida lawmakers send transgender ban bill to DeSantis

Florida has been at the forefront of name, image and likeness legislation, a move to allow college athletes to make money through things such as autographs, commercials and social media posts. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last year a bill giving athletes the right to do so. It was set to go into effect July 1 of this year.

But one of the amendments to the transgender bill would push back the effective date to July 1, 2022.

DeSantis must sign the bill for it to become law.

Athletic departments across the state had been preparing to help their athletes capitalize on the ability to make money through new avenues this year. This month, for instance, Florida State announced the formation of a program called Apex to help athletes capitalize on opportunities. It includes a partnership with an outside firm, INFLCR, as well as a pair of for-credit academic classes to help educate athletes on things such as brand building and social analytics.

The football coaches of the state’s top three programs spoke out Thursday against the proposed change to the law. Miami’s Manny Diaz called it “unacceptable” and urged DeSantis to veto the bill. FSU’s Mike Norvell said there was “no reason to wait to do the right thing.”

Florida’s Dan Mullen said the state needs to let the law go into effect “as was originally planned.”

“We need to do what’s best for our student-athletes,” Mullen said.

Two of the state’s most high-profile players also pushed back, including McKenzie Milton, the FSU quarterback and former UCF star.

Related: McKenzie Milton isn’t just back. He’s a serious contender to start at FSU.

“So when will the time actually come College athletes can truly use their OWN name to help benefit themselves and their loved ones not just the NCAA & universities??” Milton said on Twitter. “It’s comical at this point.”

Miami star quarterback D’Eriq King tweeted at DeSantis, asking him to “make it make sense.”

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“Don’t back down now,” King said. “Let us profit off OUR name image and likeness. We deserve it!”

Wednesday’s legislative maneuver was the latest twist in the complex issue of player compensation, which is not allowed under NCAA rules.

Though Florida wasn’t the first state to approve name, image and likeness legislation, it did provide the earliest starting date. That increased pressure on the NCAA to try to find a nationwide set of rules; otherwise Florida could have a recruiting advantage over other states.

“(We) recognize the importance of taking swift, appropriate action to modernize our rules,” the NCAA Board of Governors said in a statement Tuesday after their quarterly meeting. “We also must collaborate with Congress to create a legal and legislative framework at the federal level to support name, image and likeness within the context of higher education. With several state laws taking effect this summer, we will continue efforts to adopt expanded name, image and likeness opportunities as soon as advisable.”

Related: Florida’s early 2021 college football viewing guide

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio — a former Ohio State and NFL receiver — reintroduced bipartisan legislation in Congress that would allow players to make money off their name, image and likeness.

Contact Matt Baker at Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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