Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday his support of bills reforming the rules to allow college athletes to benefit from the use of their names, images and likeness.
DeSantis cited a few examples of how someone in the school band could post content to YouTube about their craft and make money off of it, or if a chemistry student could monetize their craft, it would also be allowed, but that student athletes are not afforded the same opportunity; something he says isn't right.
The bill he is referencing is HB 251, which would be effective on July 1, 2020 if it passes.
"When I look to see good policy ideas, California is usually not the first place I look, but I think California was on the right track saying that there needs to be reform to athletes being able to use at the collegiate level their name, image and likeness," DeSantis said.
He says that of course there will be issues that need to be addressed, but he is confident that they can be addressed in a way that will maintain college athletics as a special thing, but also allow student-athletes to benefit just like anyone else.
He hopes the decision will result in the NCAA re-evaluating its policy.
"I think the benefit of this would be for some of the smaller communities that may have student-athletes that are known locally and I think women's athletics has a great opportunity to benefit from this," the governor said. "At the end of the day it's about fairness, and student-athletes shouldn't be treated worse than anybody else."
While announcing his support, DeSantis was joined by bipartisan lawmakers and former Florida State athletes.
Corey Simon played defensive tackle for the football team, later taking his talent to the NFL for eight seasons. He remembered well what it’s like to play without pay.
“There were times where I did appearances, signed autographs and couldn’t benefit from them," Simon said. "But, the university would go and auction them off.”
Simon felt the changes would level the playing field for college athletes and said he would be advocating for lawmaker approval in the upcoming session, starting in January.
“I’ll be up and down these halls this session to make sure this thing gets done,” he said.
Two of Florida's top colleges, Florida State and the University of Florida, declined comment on the governor's announcement. The NCAA also didn't immediately offer its opinion, though the organization has previously warned California's law would blur lines between big-dollar pro sports and college athletics.
"The NCAA continues to focus on the best interests of all student-athletes nationwide," the group said in a statement, last month. "NCAA member schools already are working on changing rules for all student-athletes to appropriately use their name, image and likeness in accordance with our values — but not pay them to play. The NCAA has consistently stood by its belief that student-athletes are students first, and they should not be employees of the university."