Athlete Compensation Bill Heading To DeSantis

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Florida lawmakers approved late Friday a measure that will allow for college athletes to profit while playing. After wrestling with, and eventually dropping, an amendment that would have provided health and disability insurance for college athletes, the House voted 98-14 in favor of the bill, giving them the right to hire agents and earn income for their name, likeness and image.

Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, who sponsored the House version of the proposal, said the win puts Florida on the frontlines of a national conversation about athlete compensation.

“Florida is not a follower. We are a bold leader that takes leaps while others sit on the sidelines. For far too long, the collegiate athlete system professionalized everyone associated with athletics except for the young women and men who put in the work and sweat to hone their skills and talent,” Rep. LaMarca said in a statement issued Friday. “Today’s action in the Florida Legislature for our more than 11,000 collegiate athletes tells the NCAA that we won’t stand for greedy rules that put athletes at a disadvantage.”

Governor DeSantis, who played college baseball at Yale, has publically supported the measure.

“Gov. DeSantis has been a champion of this legislation since day one and I couldn’t be more thankful for his support, LaMarca, Said. “I look forward to the day the governor signs this bill into law.”

California legislators approved a similar law last year that goes into effect 2023. Both California’s and Florida’s law, which goes into effect July 2021, give the NCAA time to update its policies surrounding athlete pay. The NCAA Board of Governors in October directed its three collegiate sports divisions to consider updates to bylaws and policies, with a January 2021 deadline to address compensation issues.

“I think the NCAA has done some great work over the past century. The way they’ve integrated academics and athletics is tremendous,” LaMarca said during a committee hearing in February. “But it is time to get out of the way of our collegiate athletes. These antiquated rules barring students from using their own name, image and likeness limit the student athletes’ ability to achieve their economic freedom.”

LaMarca relented on the health insurance amendment but vows to bring it back next year.

“I stand with Speaker Oliva and believe removing the health insurance provisions leaves our collegiate athletes behind,” LaMarca wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “If a college or university benefits from the talent and skills of these young women and men, which they do, then it is my strong position that these schools should value the athletes enough to ensure that their health is protected.”

About Angela DiMichele

Angela is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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