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FSU, state schools could get NIL help from two new bills in Legislature

Florida State and other state schools could soon be on a level playing field with colleges across the country when it comes to Name, Image and Likeness, if two new bills make it through the state Legislature and reach the governor's desk as expected.

The bills, which are identical and were filed in the House and Senate to expedite the process, are designed to relax restrictions imposed by last year's landmark legislation, which allowed college athletes to be paid for promotional appearances and other use of their name and image.

Florida's law, which university leaders supported at the time, made it permissible for athletes to make money through NIL but forbade the schools and their employees from taking part in the process.

So, for example, an athlete like quarterback Jordan Travis could set up his own deals. But head football coach Mike Norvell and other staff members couldn't facilitate them or even connect interested businesses with athletes.

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That became a problem for the state schools last summer when the NCAA finally backed down in the NIL battle and cleared the way for college athletes around the country to earn compensation, as long as they followed their individual state guidelines.

That meant a coaching staff in another state -- with either no NIL law or a less-restrictive one -- would be able to work directly with athletes and businesses on financial packages, while those in Florida could not.

The situation came to a head during December's early signing period when there were reports of many recruits signing with schools, at least in part, because of lucrative NIL packages.

A bill filed in the state Senate last week by Travis Hutson, a Republican in northeast Florida, would remedy that issue by striking out the language that forbids college representatives from being part of the NIL process. It is identical to a House bill filed in December by Rep. Chip LaMarca, a Republican from Broward County.

When identical bills are filed, the process often can be swifter because they move through the chambers' respective committees at the same time. And that appears to be happening in this case.

Hutson's bill was referred to the Education, Judiciary and Rules committees on Wednesday -- one day after Florida's legislative session convened. LaMarca's bill went to committees last week and had its First Reading on Tuesday.

Because Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a major proponent of college athletes in the state being able to earn money through NIL -- even holding a press conference on FSU's campus celebrating the legislation last summer -- it is expected he will support the new relaxed proposals.

The law, if passed, would go into effect on July 1. Florida's legislative session is slated to end on March 11.

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