Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) opportunities have been a hot topic in college sports since the summer of 2021. In July 2021, the NCAA released an Interim NIL Policy. Before then, individual states had passed laws allowing college athletes to enter NIL deals. Florida was one of the earliest states to enact an NIL law. Passed in 2020, it went into effect in July 2021. Recent amendments to Florida’s NIL law will have a substantial impact upon businesses looking to enter NIL deals with athletes at Florida schools and upon Florida schools with intercollegiate athletic programs.
The Original Law
Florida’s original NIL law allowed college athletes to profit from NIL deals. The law sought to establish a strict barrier between collegiate and professional sports and specified that NIL compensation could only be provided by third parties who were “unaffiliated” with an athlete’s school. The law prohibited a school or any of its employees from “causing compensation” to be paid through an NIL deal. Additionally, it barred NIL deals from lasting longer than the athlete’s participation in the school’s athletic program.
Florida’s original NIL law required athletes to disclose any NIL deals to their school and prohibited any deal that conflicted with the athlete’s team contract.
The law also imposed educational requirements upon schools, such as financial literacy workshops, that had to be provided to student athletes.
On February 16, 2023, Florida amended its original NIL law. The amendments removed the provision that prohibited schools from causing athletes to receive NIL compensation. The amendments also removed a provision requiring that NIL compensation only come from persons “unaffiliated” with a school, and a restriction prohibiting NIL deals from lasting longer than an athlete’s participation in a school’s athletic program.
Additionally, the amendments removed the requirement that athletes disclose NIL deals to their schools. Furthermore, NIL deals that conflict with an athlete’s team contract are no longer specifically prohibited.
The amendments specify education that schools must provide athletes. Schools are now required to provide two financial literacy, life skills, and entrepreneurship workshops to their athletes before they graduate. The workshops cannot be identical, must be at least five hours, and cannot be given in the same semester. The statute also requires that the second workshop include more rigorous instruction than the first.
Further, the statute now protects schools and their employees from being held liable to student athletes for damage to an athlete’s ability to earn NIL compensation. This protection applies only to actions or decisions that are “routinely taken” in the course of collegiate athletics.
The amendments remove restrictions on schools’ facilitating NIL deals. They also revise the life-skills education that schools must provide to athletes. Important for schools and employers is the fact that the amendments provide a notable liability defense that schools (and their employees) should familiarize themselves with.
These amendments do not mean that no rules govern NIL deals with Florida athletes. Athletes, schools, and businesses looking to enter NIL sponsorships should familiarize themselves with the NCAA’s Interim NIL Policy and its various evolutions.
This is a quickly developing area of law and regulation. Those with questions should consult with experienced legal counsel to ensure compliance.