Florida allows universities to help set up athlete pay deals

Feb 16, 2023, 3:16 PM | Updated: 3:23 pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Thursday to allow universities to help set up endorsement deals for college athletes in the state.

Florida was one of the first states to pass a law allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, but it didn’t allow people affiliated with universities to help secure endorsement deals. The new law lifts that provision to make Florida more competitive with other states that don’t have the restriction. The legislation passed unanimously through the House and Senate during a recent special session.

“In 2020, we took a commonsense approach to ensure that student-athletes could control their name, image and likeness and be paid fairly for it,” DeSantis said at the bill signing, joined by college athletes and coaches from Florida State University and the University of Florida. “Now that the NCAA has taken necessary steps to ensure fairness for student-athletes, we can focus on making sure that those athletes are supported and protected under the law.”

NCAA rules allow athletes to strike deals with third parties. Schools are prohibited from paying athletes and can’t be involved in negotiating contracts.

That has led to the rise of booster-run and financed collectives to negotiate the potentially lucrative agreements with college athletes. Having collectives operate outside the purview of the athletic department they ostensibly represent creates potential problems for schools.

Most notably in the state of Florida, blue-chip quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada from California signed with the University of Florida in December but asked for and was granted his release after a deal with a collective that was potentially worth more than $13 million fell through.

The updated law requires student-athletes to participate in two financial literacy, life skills and entrepreneurship workshops before graduation. It also specifies that athlete agents who represent intercollegiate athletes for contracts related to the use of their name, image or likeness must protect the student from exploitation. The legislation also protects schools and coaches from liability when decisions like benching or suspending a player might hurt a player’s endorsement deals.

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Florida allows universities to help set up athlete pay deals