Is Florida The Next Place Where Student-Athletes Can Make Money From Their Likenesses

Another potential state problem for the NCAA.

Kionne McGhee and Chip LaMarca probably have not made it to the top of the National Collegiate Athletic Association President Dr. Mark Emmert’s list of who to invite to parties. McGhee and LaMarca are Florida politicians who are thinking of putting together legislation, separately, that would allow so-called “student-athletes” to receive compensation for their work which is playing sports for various colleges and universities in the state. California now has a law that will allow athletes to sell their likenesses, generally their faces, that kicks in during the 2023-24 sports season. Some form of the two Florida bills has the support of the Governor, Ron DeSantis. In fact, DeSantis seems to be all in getting players some money. “When I look for good policy ideas, California is usually not the first place I look. But I think California is on the right track,” said DeSantis. “California did the first step. If Florida then follows suit—it’s not as if Delaware is doing this—these are really big powerhouse states when it comes to college athletics and I think that’s going to require the NCAA to reevaluate.” The NCAA won’t reevaluate.

The very term student-athlete is a sham. The term “student-athlete” did not exist when Walter Byers took the job at the helm of the NCAA in 1951. It would first appear a number of years later following the death of a college football player on the field. A Fort Lewis A & M student, Ray Dennison, died from injuries suffered in a game in 1955. Dennison’s widow sued for workman’s compensation in Colorado. She lost. Dennison was a student not an employee. That enabled Byers to come up with the student-athlete term because the NCAA got legal cover from the judge who ruled that Fort Lewis A & M was not in the football business. The college sports business would be better off paying players.