Despite concerns about college sports in Florida being harmed, a proposal that would allow student-athletes to market themselves off the field is now moving forward in the Senate and House.
The Senate Education Committee on Monday unanimously backed a bill (SB 646), filed by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, that is similar to a House measure (HB 7051). The House bill has been characterized as a “bill of rights” for Florida college athletes in outlining how they can earn compensation for their “name, image, likeness or persona.”
Mayfield’s proposal was one of four bills filed for this year’s legislative session after California passed a law in 2019 that would allow college athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals starting in 2023.
But Mayfield’s bill drew concerns from several Republicans on the Education Committee. Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said the proposal would help sports agents but said he could not see how it would improve the college system.
“It’ll teach people to put themselves above the teams that they are a part of,” Simmons said. “It will send all the wrong messages to those who don’t make it into professional sports ultimately. This is just one more step and a problem that continues to destroy the concept of college sports.”
Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican whose district includes the University of Florida, suggested waiting to implement the bill until after the National Collegiate Athletic Association completes a review of the compensation issue. He noted that many college athletes come out of school with educations and receive scholarships that mean they don’t have as much student-loan debt as non-athletes.
“I do think students get a lot,” Perry said. “I’ve got two kids in college. It is expensive. (But) the kids (athletes) get an education. They get housing, they get food, but the biggest thing they get is an education.”
Perry also reiterated concerns that had been brought up in the House about the proposal affecting athletic conference ties for Florida universities and colleges.
Mayfield said she’s open to extending the proposed July 1 implementation date of the bill and said it was her understanding that the NCAA and conference associations wouldn’t be impacted.
However, she added that states have to put pressure on the NCAA if compensation changes are desired.
“Unless you start pushing the envelope, nobody pays attention to it,” Mayfield said after the meeting. “Nobody’s going to get engaged. So, you have to start at some point just to get the conversation going and start working from there.”
After the California law was signed and Gov. Ron DeSantis announced support for the legislative efforts in Florida, the NCAA Board of Governors in October directed its three collegiate sports divisions to consider updates to bylaws and policies, with a January 2021 deadline to address compensation issues.
The House Education Committee last week approved the House version of Mayfield’s bill. The measure is slated to go before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and then could go to the full House.
Mayfield’s proposal includes most of the House version, which would prohibit colleges and universities receiving state aid from putting restrictions on athletes earning compensation or receiving professional representation. Schools wouldn’t be able to revoke or reduce scholarships of athletes who earn off-field pay.
Mayfield’s bill doesn’t include House provisions that would require schools to provide athletes with health and disability insurance, an issue she said after the meeting could be addressed as the bill advances.
The House bill would require schools to conduct financial-aid and life-skills workshops for athletes in their freshman and junior years and maintain grants-in-aid for up to one academic year after athletes have exhausted athletic eligibility and up to five years for those who become medically ineligible to continue playing.
The proposal also would prohibit college athletes from making personal deals that conflict with the terms of their team contracts.
Last week, House sponsor Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, said talks were underway with officials at several state schools to include a provision about prohibiting some businesses, such as casinos and strip clubs, from participating in the student-athlete marketing.
Mayfield said the “morality clause” issue may be a matter for each school to address individually.
Perry wondered if that would create an unbalanced playing field.
“So, if one school wanted to compete unfairly,” Perry said, “we could have a school that says, ‘Yeah, you can represent the Hard Rock Casino,’ but another says, ‘No, that’s morality.’”
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
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Students are not employed by a university, they are students. That said, we live in a world where self marketing and content creation and ones persona, etc. are viably marketable. There should be a clause in some contract that states: if a student athlete manages to land an endorsement or income from any entity for their participation in the college league, that league (the NCAA) should probably receive equal portion of that money. (And of course, people should be compensated for appearing in copyrighted content) That’ll really make these Nikes’ and EA Sports’ type companies think twice about their wallet size, also this would keep student humility in check…. OR, they could just do it the way it’s always been done, without issue.
I mean, Free public fame for playing a sport in college has never hurt anybody. Fact. I hope they do this right.
I feel it’s a horrible mistake to do this. Going to destroy college sports. Any compensation must be given to the team, not an individual. Destroys the team and concentrates on a single person. This is going to destroy college sports.
Do they get to pay for their education like everyone else now?
Most athletes already get partial if not full scholarships, which means they are getting a form of pay, yet some poor shmuck working his way thru school for science or medicine who might actually help his fellow humans is usually expected to pay full fare. makes you wonder about our priorities
This is Murica…..our priorities are SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!!!. Anything else is a distant second.
These college sports students have to be provided free medical and injury liability and disability insurance. They also need with the free tuition, free food and housing in campus also a pay rate enough so they can buy clothes and trips home to spend with family when schools are out. Is a real shame that these kids sometimes as media had reported are caught shoplifting for clothes or shoes that they can’t afford, as they are exceptional athletes but from poor families. And all the above should be provided from the millions that the colleges and the broadcasting industry and tickets revenue generate. Don’t be greedy with these exceptional sports athletes students as sometimes these students also not only suffer devastating injuries but give their lives while playing or training! They have an exceptional ability that need to be rewarded as well with exceptional compensation and not because many or most are kids from low income families are subject to lesser rights! Anyone here complaining against them compensations by saying “well I have to pay my kids college and they don’t”, I would say maybe is time that you should have taken a stand and ask that your taxes should be less for frivolous wars or other waste and instead use some of it for free tuition to those that pass the minimum average admission test for aeronautics, medical, law enforcement, technical and engineering college courses. Just in case most don’t know we have shortage of pilots (pretty scary overworked current pilots), medical doctors, law enforcement applicants and engineering computer science , etc. Why..? because Americans can’t afford the universities tuition’s. Sad estate of affairs for a supposedly rich country like ours.
Amatures are not pros and should not be paid. What about the value of a free college education, does that mean anything?