Miami, Fla. - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law today a bill which enables college athletes in his state to be paid based off their personal branding. While it has been a topic of conversation more in recent months than perhaps ever before, today marks a tangible legal change in the name/image/likeness debate.
The state law doesn't go into effect until July 1, 2021, but Florida's law will make it the first state to allow this to happen. Colorado and California signed legislation which won't go into effect until January 1, 2023. The governor made the announcement today during a press conference at the University of Miami.
"This whole issue of student-athletes and being able to receive compensations for their likeness or image is something that's been bubbling to the surface in the last couple years," DeSantis said, via ESPN. "I viewed it as something that was a matter of fairness."
Perhaps today's announcement has led to some confusion among fans, because the NCAA announced two months ago that it supported rule changes that would allow athletes to be compensated. The recommendations they backed suggested that name/image/likeness rights for student-athletes would be in play by the 2021-2022 academic year - as long as they didn't use college or team logos. But the rules the NCAA publicly supports do not prohibit states from signing their own legislation beforehand. DeSantis told reporters he wants Florida to be a nationwide leader on this front, and he thinks it will help the best players in the state choose schools closer to home.
By signing legislation at the state level, Florida is showing they aren't willing to wait on the NCAA to make changes of their own. NIL rights are not universally supported, but last month Power Five commissioners essentially bypassed the NCAA and sent their own letter to Congress to address the issue. The particularly tricky part of this issue is that the NCAA wants federal legislation instead of having different rules in each state.
There are currently five Buckeyes on the football roster that reside in Florida, although nearly every roster for each sport at Ohio State has at least one student-athlete from the Sunshine State.