Gov. DeSantis signs bill allowing Florida college athletes to profit on name and likeness

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was at the University of Miami's indoor practice facility to sign a bill into law that will allow college athletes in the state to make money from their name, image and likeness. (WPLG)

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law that will allow Florida’s college athletes to make money from their name, image and likeness.

He did it from the indoor practice facility at the University of Miami and even worked in a recruiting pitch.

“I just want to say Florida is leading on this,” DeSantis said, “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.”

College athletes can’t be paid for playing, but the state will allow them to profit from endorsements when their names, images and likenesses (NIL) are used by businesses. The bill, passed by Florida legislators earlier this year, goes into effect in July 2021.

Miami Hurricanes great Jonathan Vilma spoke at the announcement, as did Corey Simon, a South Florida native who played at Florida State. The governor was introduced by the University of Miami’s director of athletics Blake James.

Watch a replay of the announcement and bill signing below:

WATCH LIVE: Gov. Ron DeSantis makes announcement at University of Miami

Posted by WPLG Local 10 on Friday, June 12, 2020

State Reps. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, and Kionne McGhee, D-Miami, were among the lawmakers who pushed for the bill.

“This is about fairness. It was absolutely wrong to prevent these adults from earning compensation on their own name, image, or likeness,” said McGhee, the state House Democratic leader. “These athletes have a limited window to earn compensation on their athletic careers, using their incredible skills to support themselves and their families. College sports is a multi-billion dollar industry and this action today puts us on the right side of history. To the athletes: we have heard you, fairness is here. While the NCAA’s rules unfairly limited these highly skilled experts, Florida has said loud and clear: that’s not acceptable in the Sunshine State.”

Florida’s House’s passed the bill by a 98-14 vote in March after the Senate approved it by a 37-2 margin. DeSantis had said back in October that he supported the proposal.

Florida is the third state, joining California and Colorado, to pass a NIL law targeting current NCAA rules that restrict college athlete compensation.

Florida’s law, however, increases the urgency for the NCAA to act because it goes into effect 18 months earlier than California’s and Colorado’s. More than 20 more states are working on similar legislation.

The NCAA’s board of governors signed off in April on recommendations to allow athletes access to a free market — with “guardrails” — while also emphasizing that it will need help from Congress to avoid a patchwork of state laws. The NCAA wants its own legislation ready for a vote in January.

Federal lawmakers have expressed concerns about the NCAA’s desire and ability to regulate NIL compensation. They have also said an antitrust exemption for the NCAA is unlikely, but they could move on national NIL legislation later this year.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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