FL Senate Debates College Athlete Pay

Doak Campbell Stadium, home of Florida State University Football, in Tallahassee, Florida, United States on February 15, 2020. Photo: C5 Media/Shutterstock.com

Florida college athletes might be able to make off-the-field money soon thanks to an effort that was approved on Monday (March 9, 2020) by the Florida Senate. The bill currently awaits House action. The Senate voted 37-2 to support the proposal. The proposal outlines the rights of students and schools related to how college athletes could make money off their own “name, likeness, image or persona.”

The reason for the move comes after California created a path for college athletes to be compensated. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) was forced to consider making changes as a result of this pathway made by California. Lawmakers in the Senate are now questioning, with a week left in session, whether there are any loopholes left in the bill, giving universities an advantage in recruiting.

University of Florida second baseman Hannah Adams. Photo: Alana Healy/www.floridagators.com

Republican Senator Rob Bradley of Fleming Island said the Senate proposal gives the NCAA time to enact nationwide compensation rules for college athletes. The rule by the NCAA was put in place to keep student athletes from being seen as professionals. Students have been banned from being paid to play, directly and indirectly. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis brought this to light in October. The rule is effectively stopping student athletes from making money outside of sports.

“I think that this is something the legislature should tackle in this coming session. I also say that understanding that of course there are going to be issues that need to be addressed.” DeSantis said. “But, I’m confident that those issues can be addressed in a way that will maintain college athletics as being a really special thing, but also provide an ability for our student college athletes to benefit just like anybody else.”

Debbie Mayfield, a Republican senator from Melbourne, agreed with Governor DeSantis. Her bill lets college athletes enter into contracts and earn money for the use of their name, image and likeness. Sen. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) wonders what the bill would mean for recruiters who have to follow NCAA rules.

Recruiters use every edge to help their team land the next great athlete. 

“This is relating only to the college athletic sports,” Mayfield said. “We’ve tried to tighten this up in the fact that they cannot enter into contracts prior to entering into a contract to play sports with a certain school to stop them from using that as a recruiting tool. Now, if you don’t believe this is tight enough then please get with me.”

The proposed rules wouldn’t just apply to big sports like basketball and football but all collegiate sports. If passed, college athletes could enter into contracts with businesses to advertise the company on their social media platforms. The bill wouldn’t take effect until July 1, 2021.