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Florida governor signs bill to allow college athletes to sign endorsement deals

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (Credit: Getty Images)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has cleared the way for college athletes in the state to earn money from endorsement deals from next summer.

The bill, which is aimed at helping student-athletes cash in on their name, image and likeness, is due to take effect from July 1, 2021. Florida’s bill will be the first such statute set to take effect, ahead of those in California and Colorado, which are set to begin on January 1, 2023.

“I viewed it as something that was a matter of fairness, and just understand what we’re not talking about,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “We’re not talking about, you get a scholarship to Florida State or Miami and the universities are gonna pay you, that’s not what we’re talking about. You’re an amateur…But, in a situation where you have some great athletes especially in sports like football and basketball whose likeness is being used to make millions and millions and dollars and they don’t even have an opportunity to get any of that, there’s something fundamentally unfair.”

Florida’s move comes after the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Board of Governors took another tentative step to allow student-athletes to earn money from endorsements in April.

In October, the NCAA board unveiled a series of guiding principles for this initiative, directing each of the organization’s three divisions to create the necessary new rules and have them in place by no later than January 2021. The recommendations have now been formally approved, with more details added.

The organization’s move, marking a significant reversal of its prior policy, comes after the NCAA faced increased pressure late last year from lawmakers across the United States intent on following California’s lead by dismantling compensation prohibitions that currently apply to more than 450,000 student athletes in the US.

It also comes as the National Basketball Association’s G League professional pathway program recently landed the services of high school superstar Jalen Green, as well as other top prospects, who have opted to make at least $500,000 in the one-year developmental program rather than play unsalaried and on scholarship in college.

Florida’s bill is likely to put further pressure on the NCAA to act quickly on the issue. Roughly two dozen other states are in various stages of considering similar proposals.

“I just want to say Florida is leading on this 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,” DeSantis said. “For all of our great high school players, stay in state. I see people going to Alabama and Clemson and I know they’ve got good programs, but there’s nothing better than winning a national championship in your home state. So maybe this will be an added incentive.”