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South Florida lawmaker proposes changes to state NIL law

Bill would eliminate 'cause compensation' language, allow for more institutional involvement, Rep. Chip LaMarca says
Fans watch LSU Tigers at Florida Gators, Oct. 15, 2022
Posted at 9:15 AM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-23 09:17:29-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would expand upon the state's name, image and likeness law for college student-athletes.

The bill, filed earlier this month by Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, would permit a university or college to have more involvement in the process and remove the "cause compensation" language from the current law.

HB 99 would also provide support services for student-athletes, allowing schools to help with such things as contract review, tax preparation and financial planning.

Under the current law, student-athletes can only receive compensation through third-party entities unaffiliated with a school.

One example of this is Rising Spear, an organization that helps provide NIL opportunities for student-athletes at Florida State University. Although unaffiliated with the university, its advisory board is made up of several former Florida State legends in various sports, including 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and former women's basketball coach Sue Semrau.

Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell shakes hands with Florida Gators head coach Billy Napier before game, Nov. 25, 2022
Florida State head coach Mike Norvell, left, shakes hands with Florida head coach Billy Napier, right, before an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

The Gator Collective, which is the University of Florida's version, has been in the headlines recently amid the Jaden Rashada debacle.

Rashada, who had originally committed to Miami before signing with Florida last month, sought to be released from his letter of intent to play for the Gators after the funding for a $13 million NIL deal brokered by the Gator Collective reportedly fell through.

HB 99 wouldn't allow for direct compensation between institution and student-athlete, but it would give employees of postsecondary institutions the means "to help facilitate a deal," LaMarca told WPTV.

When it comes to Rashada's botched NIL deal, LaMarca said he believes there was "no institutional involvement."

LaMarca, who helped create the state's current NIL law, said Florida is at a competitive disadvantage now that the NCAA allows schools to have a more active role in connecting student-athletes with NIL opportunities.

The bill has already made it through the Postsecondary Education & Workforce Subcommittee and has been referred to the Education & Employment Committee. LaMarca said it will then go to the Commerce Committee before being introduced on the House floor.

LaMarca said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, have shown support for the modified legislation, which would go into effect immediately upon becoming law.

Florida Rep. Chip LaMarca, Jan. 13, 2022
Florida Rep. Chip LaMarca listens during an Early Learning and Elementary Education Subcommittee hearing during a legislative session, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.

"It's not a partisan issue. It's not a bipartisan issue," LaMarca said. "It's really a nonpartisan issue."

The only pushback LaMarca said he's seen is from "die-hard traditionalist college football fans."

Otherwise, he said, there's "almost no opposition to it."

In the end, LaMarca said, his aim isn't to fix college athletics, but to "make it a level playing field."