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Despite Pandemic, Athlete “Likeness” Legislation Moves Forward

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Things have continued moving forward for NCAA athletes, despite some tough circumstances.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Although there are a lot of important things going on nationally and worldwide, highlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some important developments over the last few weeks regarding the NCAA, student athletes, and player compensation. In particular, Florida moved forward with legislation that would push the issue into 2021:

For anyone who’s followed this story, everything started in California, where the state legislature passed a bill last summer that “would allow college athletes in the state to earn compensation for the use of their own name, image or likeness, beginning in 2023.” Of course, this provision would run contrary to the central principle of the NCAA, which prides itself on amateurism and limiting compensation of athletes to tuition scholarships and associated expenses.

And after those developments, the NCAA responded with a number of press releases and requests for Congressional action. Unfortunately for the NCAA, those efforts have resulted in little meaningful action to date. And while the NCAA subsequently made some declarations that suggested an interest in comprising with the reformers, it has yet to slow down the state governments. A number of other states have followed California’s lead and Florida was just the latest in line.

But even if this isn’t the first “likeness” bill, it is a significant one because it pushes the timetable up so significantly. California’s legislation was to take effect in 2023, but Florida’s statute will begin next summer. Obviously, that pushes things up considerably and will likely force the NCAA to take some action before the 2021-’22 sports calendar.

We’ll have to wait and see what ends up happening with these issues, but it’s safe to say Florida just changed the timetable for the NCAA’s compensation reforms. It now seems like we will see some serious changes in short order.