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Senate Committee Advances Proposal Allowing College Athletes To Be Paid

Phelan M. Ebenhack
AP Photo

The Florida Senate is movingits version of a plan allowing college athletes to receive pay for their name, image and likeness. Florida is trying to follow California, which passed a law allowing student athletes to earn money from endorsements.

Sen. Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) says it was her son who convinced her to file legislation allowing college athletes to be paid.

“He said their body is beaten down during these sports so they should be able to earn some money while they’re at the height of their career, and that may be the end of their career," Mayfield said.

Under the proposal legislation student athletes would be allowed to be paid to appear in advertisement for businesses. The move could be profitable for players who receive national and sometimes worldwide recognition. Those who would want to enter into a contract with a private business would have to follow a few rules.

“The student athlete may not enter into a contract that violates provisions of the teams’ contract. The team must disclose each potential conflict with the athlete and their representation. The student athlete must disclose any contract they are a part of to the university," Mayfield said.

That’s the so called Morality Clause. The House is considering adding similar language to its proposals. Mayfield believes student athletes deserve the freedom to make money like any other person.

“When you look at the fact that the Universities are making millions, millions off of these student athletes. On their ability. And yes their getting a scholarship, and yes their getting housing and room and board but their working their tails off, and their getting their heads banged," Mayfield said.

Mayfield’s bill means players like Kyle Trask the starting QB for UF could make money to appear in Gatorade commercials, but may have to transfer if he wants to work with PowerAde.

But the Florida Legislature isn’t the body that’s been standing in front of the decision whether student athletes are paid -- it’s the NCAA. Sen. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) questioned if it would jeopardize universities compliance with the oversight body:

“I wondered if you could speak to the NCAA’s decision on this. Specifically, that their board voted to let student athletes to be paid for the endorsements. But after California passed a similar legislation to this, the NCAA warned California that schools could be blocked from intercollegiate events if the law provides an unfair recruiting advantage to their state schools," Cruz asked.

“Part of this bill is to really push the NCAA to make those rules and those decisions. It’s my understanding that it’d be very difficult for them to block the state of Florida out from participating since it’s a pretty big state. And the universities bring in a lot of money as well," Mayfield answered.

Mayfield also says Florida isn’t alone and if more states join it could strengthen the push.

"They will be coming in January to address those rules and my thought it the more states that pass this type of legislation it’s going to force them to make those decisions," Mayfield said.

Mayfield is working with Rep. Chip LaMarca (R-Lighthouse Point) on the legislation. The bill has two more stops in the Senate and the House version has its last committee stop Wednesday.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.