Language buried in an unrelated amendment would have changed the start date of Florida’s new rules on student-athlete name-image-likeness (NIL) earnings – but the state reversed course after sharp public outcry.
Proponents of student-athlete earning rights said they were stunned by a line in an unrelated 71-page amendment that would have kept athletes from earning money off of their names, images, and likenesses until July of 2022.
Florida was set to become one of the first states updating NIL rules for student-athletes. Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a landmark bill last summer, setting up July 1, 2021 as the date when Florida student-athletes could start earning compensation.
That bill came amid a nationwide groundswell for updated NIL rules, with other states racing to match Florida’s start date to ensure schools in their states wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. Mississippi, New Mexico, and Alabama have passed similar laws taking effect in July. Georgia, Maryland, and South Carolina have similar bills awaiting signature by their governors. Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Jersey have all passed laws that will start in 2022.
But two lines in an unrelated amendment threatened to move Florida from the front of that line to the back. According to Sports Illustrated, two lines 66 pages into a 71-page amendment on charter schools would have delayed the law’s effective date to July of 2022. The amendment passed quickly, with critics arguing lawmakers may not have even been aware that it included a change to the NIL law.
“It’s devastating. It’s shocking. I’m flabbergasted,” law professor Darren Heitner told Sports Illustrated. Heitner helped author the NIL bill last year.
Prominent athletes and coaches widely condemned the amendment, calling on Governor DeSantis to veto it. But amid the heavy outcry, lawmakers reversed course within 48 hours, passing another amendment to restore the original July 2021 effective date.
The NCAA has said it plans to “modernize” its NIL rules, but delayed a vote in early 2021. NCAA President Mark Emmert has said the organization won’t punish athletes who earn NIL profits under state laws, but the Senator who introduced the amendment delaying the new NIL rules said he wanted written confirmation from the NCAA.
Sports Illustrated writer Ross Dellenger reports that the new proposal “does include language that would require Florida schools to leave the NCAA if the organization tries to punish schools for Florida’s laws, including NIL.”