Last month, Florida Governor Ran DeSantis signed a new bill into law allowing college athletes to be paid for use of their names, images and likenesses. The new law is set to take effect on July 1, 2021 with the hopes that not only will other states follow Florida’s lead, but such state legislation will apply more pressure on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) to move forward with its proposed changes to allow college athletes to take advantage of these rights.
The new law, SB 646, will allow college athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image or likeness “commensurate with market value” by a third party unaffiliated with the athlete’s school. The law also prevents the athlete’s school from restricting the athlete’s right from obtaining agent or attorney representation to negotiate such deals and from revoking or reducing an athlete’s school scholarship as a result of earning compensation or obtaining representation.
The law also contains such provisions as: (i) the athlete’s deal cannot conflict with their school’s own sponsorship contracts, (ii) the athlete must disclose the deal to their school, (iii) the duration of the contract cannot extend beyond the athlete’s participation in the athletic program at their school, and (iv) schools are to conduct a “life skills workshop for a minimum of 5 hours” at the beginning of the athlete’s first and third academic years, covering such information as financial aid, debt management, recommended budget, and time skills management.
Governor DeSantis’ action makes Florida the third state to pass such legislation, with similar laws passed in California and Colorado. However, Florida’s legislation is scheduled to go into effect eighteen months sooner than the others – which are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2023.
Takeaway: As we previously wrote about here, the NCAA Board of Governors announced it would take steps toward allowing college athletes the “opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” In April, the Board of Governors approved rule changes with certain “guardrails” on the new system designed to maintain a clear distinction between college sports and professional leagues. However, the specific rules are not expected to be adopted until January 2021. Florida’s new law signifies the growing unwillingness of many states to wait for the NCAA’s slow moving bureaucracy to make changes in modernizing its decades-old policies by taking matters into their own hands.