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NCAA Gets Ball Rolling On Athlete Pay, As Florida Governor, Senate President Strike Different Tones

Sam Craft
AP Photo

Florida’s governor and senate president on Tuesday struck two different tones on bills seeking to allow collegiate athletes in the state to get paid. Later the same day, the NCAA announced its own plan for its athletes nationwide.

Currently, collegiate athletes are barred by the NCAA from getting paid for use of their name and likeness – whether it be endorsement deals or even YouTube accounts. After California became the first state to pass legislation making it illegal for colleges to prevent their athletes from being paid, a bill to do the same was filed in Florida. That came from House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee.

“If that is not an unfair situation, I don’t know what else is. And we simply want to correct that,” McGhee told WFSU earlier this month.

About 10 states have followed suit since then, with legislation of their own.

Governor Ron DeSantis has seemingly been all in on the concept. He reiterated that to reporters at this week’s Associated Press legislative preview event.

“There’s no other part of college where they can use your name, image and likeness without your consent, or without you being able to share in that,” DeSantis said. “So, I think that there’s a way forward for that, and I think we’ve gotten good bipartisan support for that.”

Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM
Governor Ron DeSantis addresses reporters at the Associated Press' 2020 legislative preview on October 29, 2019.

But Senate President Bill Galvano took a more hesitant approach to the topic:

“I have my own reservations about moving college athletes into the realm of professional athletes in many regards. I think there may be some things we can do to make it more fair for them – for example in social media interactions and things of that nature,” Galvano said. “But I expect that that proposal will need to be thoroughly vetted before an ultimate decision is made.”

Following both DeSantis’ and Galvano’s remarks, the NCAA made a move of its own. Michael Drake, who chairs the NCAA’s Board of Governors, says “more flexibility” is needed on the issue. On Monday, the governing board directed the NCAA’s three divisions to consider updating bylaws to allow opportunities for its athletes to profit. Its goal is to have those updates in place by 2021 – but within certain guidelines. Those include making clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities, and that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible. 

Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano addresses reporters at the Associated Press' 2020 legislative preview on October 29, 2019

Meanwhile, Republican State Senator Debbie Mayfield, who filed similar legislation to McGhee’s, says she is moving forward with backing her bill, which would go into effect in 2020.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.