House Targets ‘Outdated’ Athlete Pay Law

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House is poised to pass a measure that would allow colleges and universities to steer endorsement opportunities toward student-athletes, with the bill sponsor calling a current law “outdated and overly restrictive.”

The bill (HB 7B), which was approved Wednesday by the House Education & Employment Committee, would revamp a law that allows college athletes to earn money based on their names, images and likenesses, or NIL. Colleges and universities and their employees currently are barred from causing “compensation to be directed” to athletes.

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The bill would repeal that prohibition, an effort to bring Florida’s law in line with other states that don’t have such constraints.

The House committee unanimously approved the bill, which is expected to go to the full House on Thursday. It is being considered during a special legislative session that started Monday to deal with several issues.

Bill sponsor Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, described the proposal as bringing Florida up to speed with other states.

Chip LaMarca Working to Get College Athletes Opportunity to Monetize Name, Image, and Likeness

“Recognizing that Florida’s NIL law has become outdated and overly restrictive, the bill removes overburdensome restrictions to our college athletes and postsecondary institutions. In doing so, the bill levels the playing field with all other states while maintaining compliance with the NCAA policy and bylaws,” LaMarca told the committee.

The bill also would seek to shield colleges and universities and their employees, including coaches, from potential lawsuits.

“A postsecondary educational institution or an employee of such institution, including an athletic coach, is not liable for any damages to an intercollegiate athlete’s ability to earn compensation for the use of her or his name, image, or likeness resulting from decisions and actions routinely taken in the course of intercollegiate athletics,” part of the bill says.

Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican who is sponsoring an identical Senate bill (SB 8-B, said the liability protections would help in situations such as schools suspending athletes for off-field activities.

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“So if they get caught drinking underage, DUI, anything that is illegal in state statute, if they get suspended, because that’s routinely what you do is suspend a student-athlete, that if it affects their NIL deal … they can’t go back and sue the university for something that they did off the field,” Hutson said.

The Senate measure would need approval from the Rules Committee before it could go before the full Senate. The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Friday.

The proposals also would bolster financial-literacy instruction for student-athletes, adding requirements such as an “entrepreneur workshop.”

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