“This is unacceptable. @GovRonDeSantis must use his veto power to fix this. While the rest of the states are moving forward to follow OUR lead, we inexcusably take a giant step backwards,” Miami football coach Manny Diaz tweeted on Thursday. “.@GovRonDeSantis was on the forefront of NIL legislation. He can protect the bill he has championed for the last few years. #Veto”
California first challenged the NCAA’s amateurism rules through a law in 2019 which will allow college athletes in the state to profit from their name, image and likeness starting in 2023. A Florida bill granting similar rights to college athletes in the state was signed into law last year and set to go into effect on July 1.
Other states such as Alabama and Mississippi have also approved NIL laws that are slated to go into effect in July. Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R), a former Ohio State football player, reintroduced a bipartisan federal bill providing NIL rights to college athletes across the country on Monday.
Two days later, Florida state senator Travis Hutson (R) added an amendment which would push the effective date of Florida’s NIL law from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022, into a charter school bill that would also ban transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports. The bill passed both chambers on Wednesday evening without substantial debate over the date change, according to Sports Illustrated.
Hutson told SI that the Florida legislature’s education staff “alerted lawmakers that the NCAA could punish Florida athletes for using a state law that, in some cases, differs from impending NCAA rules.”
“We did not want our student athletes, if this law went into effect, to start profiting off NIL and potentially lose scholarships from the NCAA,” he said. “We decided to do a one-year hold. It was an abundance of caution. We want our kids to profit from the NIL and that’s something we’re passionate about, but not at the chance they could lose the right to play.”
NCAA President Mark Emmert reportedly eased such concerns earlier this month when he told college basketball players that athletes in states with new NIL laws will not face punishment this summer.
In a separate meeting this month, Emmert spoke to the players behind the #NotNCAAProperty social media hashtag, who are seeking to lift the restrictions which state and federal NIL legislation aim to address. Rutgers guard Geo Baker, who has entered this year’s NBA draft, came away from that meeting with the impression that the organization was waiting on Congress to act on NIL rights before amending its rules.
“Honestly, what it really sounded like was the NCAA doesn’t really want to be the first to make action,” he told reporters. Emmert “kept saying over and over again, ‘We need Congress help, we need the help of Congress.’ That was something that stuck out to me, where I feel like that’s really not necessary. They have all the tools to make the change themselves.”
Players and advocates have continued to pressure the NCAA to provide clarity and lift restrictions in recent years. The Florida NIL law’s initial timetable injected a degree of urgency into the effort, setting an effective date 18 months earlier than similar laws in California and Colorado.
Florida college football coaches responded to the pending date change on Thursday, urging DeSantis to maintain the law’s original effective date.
“NIL changes are coming in the very near future. Here at UCF, we will continue to help our student-athletes in building their personal brands and capitalizing on their opportunities,” Central Florida Coach Gus Malzahn said on Twitter. “We are hopeful that the state’s original plan will stay on track in implementing these changes.”
Players have been equally outspoken about the bill since its passage.
“I’m extremely disappointed by the decision to modify the start date of the NIL. However, I’m encouraging and hoping you will move forward with the ORIGINAL date of this year, July 1, 2021,” Miami quarterback D’Eriq King said in a tweet that tagged DeSantis. “I hope that you VETO the bill [proposed] recently and propel the great state of Florida to make history as one of the first states to pass and be on the right side of history.”
DeSantis, who has publicly supported NIL rights, alluded to the benefits of the law when he signed the athlete compensation bill last summer.
“I just want to say Florida is leading on this and if you’re a blue-chip high school recruit out there trying to figure out where to go I think any of our Florida schools is a great landing spot,” he said.