Athletes at FSU thrown off with potential push back on NIL start date

College athletes around the state as well as administrators were thrown a wicked curveball when Florida’s legislators added an amendment that would delay the effective date of name, image and likeness legislation to a charter school bill late Wednesday night.

Florida legislators were early to the table, following California’s lead, in signing name, image and likeness (NIL) into law in 2020 with an effective date of July 1, 2021. But while California targeted legislation for 2023, Florida was the first state to have a law beginning this summer — and others have followed. The legislation would allow a student-athlete to promote a product or service and use his or her social media to generate income beyond what is received from a scholarship.

If Governor Ron DeSantis signs the charter school bill in full, the NIL date will shift to July 1, 2022. (In this case, DeSantis does not have the option of a line-item veto.) It’s not clear what DeSantis’ intentions are as he has consistently been in favor of the NIL law but is also expected to sign the charter school bill, according to news reports.

Just weeks after Florida State announced the hiring of an outside vendor to help facilitate planning and education of NIL, the late shift prompted harsh criticism from football players like Camren McDonald and McKenzie Milton.

“It has nothing to do with amateurism and everything to do with greed and envy,” McDonald posted on Twitter in response to a tweet by Milton. “In all honesty we should have never been put in this position in the first place. I will do everything in my power to get this bill veto’d.”

Milton, who has come back to the field following a brutal injury that required nine surgeries on his knee, also shamed the NCAA on Twitter: “For those that try to justify “free education” as a way to stand against NIL laws being passed are part of the issue. The NCAA really helped out when it came to paying for 9 knee surgeries and hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills…oh wait.”

This is the latest turn in NIL legislation, which had been moving full-speed ahead for more than a year. Florida was ahead of the curve and now faces the prospect of being behind other states, although federal legislation will likely override any laws at the state level. It was widely expected that Florida and a few states would have a law in place on July 1, 2021, with lawmakers in Washington taking more time to pass a uniform law.

Florida State officials announced the hiring of Apex on April 12, a company that will help educate coaches, administrators and student-athletes on their options. The schools’ various sports teams also engaged in a coordinated social media campaign with quotes from coaches and videos describing the importance of hiring Apex and what it could do for athletes.

“The cornerstone principle from the start of this process was to educate our student-athletes, and education plays a central role in every aspect of Apex,” athletics director David Coburn said in a statement announcing Apex’s role with FSU athletics. “We believe we are the only Power Five school in the nation that will offer two for-credit courses in NIL education. By partnering with the FSU College of Business, the Jim Moran Institute and INFLCR, we will provide a complete educational process from which our student-athletes will benefit immediately and throughout their lives.” 

FSU football coach Mike Norvell weighed in later in the day, posting on Twitter: “There is no reason to wait to do the right thing. The state of Florida was a leader on NIL and, as other states quickly tried to follow our model, college athletes in Florida have been able to position themselves to be ready to benefit starting July 1, 2021.”