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Florida’s New Name, Image, and Likeness Law Levels the Playing Field

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new name, image, and likeness (NIL) bill into law today putting Florida on a level playing field with other states. With this bill, Florida effectively repealed its legal restrictions on college athletes making money off their name, image, and likeness.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

The bill, HB 7B, sailed through the recent legislative special session without a single vote against it, either in committee meetings or on the floor of the House and Senate. The new law, effective immediately, removes restrictions put in place by the first version, signed in 2020.

The new legislation signed by DeSantis allows teams and coaches to help facilitate deals for players, ending a provision about schools, teams or coaches causing money to go to athletes. Schools will not be able to pay players directly or use name, image and likeness deals as inducements for recruiting or retention because those are still NCAA violations.

Those who support the change argued it was necessary because Florida’s law was more restrictive than what the NCAA and some other states allowed; thus, creating a competitive disadvantage in recruiting for the schools and causing players to lose out on NIL deals.

Two additional noteworthy elements complete the new law. It provides liability protection for coaches or teams whose routine decisions (like benching or suspending a player) inadvertently affect that athlete’s NIL deals. It also requires schools to add a second workshop for players about financial literacy, life skills and entrepreneurship.

“This bill just says we’re going to follow the NCAA, but more importantly be on an even playing field with the rest of the nation as it relates to what other states are doing,” one of its sponsors, Sen. Travis Hutson, said during one of the special-session committee meetings.

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