State schools

Florida’s NIL bills would offer relief to FSU and other public schools

Florida State and other public schools could soon be on par with colleges nationwide on name, image and likeness, if two new bills make it through the Assembly state legislature and arrive at the governor’s office as scheduled.

The bills, which are identical and have been introduced in the House and Senate to expedite the process, are designed to loosen restrictions imposed by landmark legislation last year, which allowed college athletes to be paid for promotional appearances and other uses of their name and likeness.

The Florida law, which university leaders supported at the time, allowed athletes to earn money through NIL, but prohibited schools and their employees from participating in the process.

So, for example, an athlete like quarterback Jordan Travis could set up his own deals. But head football coach Mike Norvell and other staff were unable to facilitate them or even connect interested companies with athletes.

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This became an issue for public schools last summer when the NCAA finally backed down in the NIL battle and paved the way for college athletes nationwide to earn compensation, as long as they followed their state’s guidelines.

This meant that a coaching staff in another state – without or less restrictive NIL law – could work directly with athletes and companies on financial arrangements, unlike those in Florida.

The situation came to a head during the first December signing period, when many recruits signed with schools, at least in part, because of lucrative NIL packages.

A bill introduced in the state Senate last week by Travis Hutson, a Republican from northeast Florida, would remedy that problem by removing language that bars college representatives from being part of the NIL process. It is identical to a bill introduced in December by Representative Chip LaMarca, a Republican from Broward County.

When identical bills are tabled, the process can often be faster because they go through the respective chamber committees at the same time. And it seems to be happening in this case.

Hutson’s bill was referred to the education, justice and rules committees on Wednesday – a day after Florida’s legislative session was convened. LaMarca’s bill went to committees last week and had its first reading on Tuesday.

Because Governor Ron DeSantis has been a leading proponent of the state’s college athletes’ ability to earn money through NIL — even holding a press conference on the FSU campus to celebrate the legislation last summer – he is expected to support the new, relaxed proposals.

The law, if passed, would go into effect on July 1. Florida’s legislative session is scheduled to end on March 11.

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