TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- College athletes in Florida would be able to make money off their name, image or likeness under a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate on Monday.
The Senate voted 37-2 to allow athletes to be paid for use of their name or image, a practice that's still not allowed by the NCAA. Florida is following the lead of California, which has a similar law set to go into effect in 2023.
"This is long overdue," said Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, who noted that California and Florida are the first and third largest states in the country in population. "We send a very clear message to the NCAA, the SEC, the Big 10 -- all these organizations -- that we're serious about doing the right thing when it comes to student athletes."
Florida's bill would take effect July 1, 2021.
Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy supported the bill with some hesitation.
"This bill only benefits the very best players on the larger schools. Sports is a team sport and a lot of players contribute, and so I think I need we need to have a more equitable distribution when we talk about paying students for their play," Bracy said.
Under pressure, the NCAA last fall announced that it would take action to lift the money-making ban for the 450,000 athletes under its purview. But it did not commit to a specific timeline for doing so.
Florida has a number of high profile college sports programs, including teams at the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami.
Athletes still couldn't be paid to play, but they could use their name and their fame to earn money for endorsements and similar deals.
The bill now needs House approval. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he supports the legislation.