Student-athletes say profiting from their name and image is ‘overdue’

A new Florida act may allow student-athletes to profi t from their name and likeness. FAU athletes seem to be on board, but administration sees pontential problems for the program.

Redshirt+Sophomore%0Asafety+Ahman+Ross.%0APhoto+by+Alex+Liscio.
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Student-athletes say profiting from their name and image is ‘overdue’

Redshirt Sophomore
safety Ahman Ross.
Photo by Alex Liscio.

Redshirt Sophomore safety Ahman Ross. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Redshirt Sophomore safety Ahman Ross. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Redshirt Sophomore safety Ahman Ross. Photo by Alex Liscio.

Zachary Weinberger, Sports Editor

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One of the more debated topics in the world of collegiate athletics is if student-athletes should be able to profit off of their name and likeness. This can include having their names on a jersey or appearing in a video game. On Sept. 23, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the “Fair Pay to Play Act” into law.

When the bill goes into effect in 2023, California college athletes gain the ability to make money based on their image and even sign to endorsement deals. Now, Florida might follow suit. 

Following the news of the historic passing, State Rep. Kionne McGhee filed a bill on Sept. 30 with the same requirements, and effective date of 2023.

State Rep. Chip LaMarca filed a bill similar to McGhee’s which will go into effect in as early as 2020, but this bill has safeguards like being an enrolled student athlete and making sure attorneys and agents are in good standing with their licensing boards. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced his support for both bills.

The NCAA sent a letter to the California State Assembly on Sept. 11, warning that the bill would disqualify schools from playing in NCAA competitions. They even called the bill “unconstitutional.”

Despite the letter sent to California, on Oct. 29, the NCAA’s top decision-makers voted unanimously to start allowing college athletes to profit off of their name.

If Florida follows California’s lead, all student-athletes in Florida’s 58 NCAA Division I schools, including FAU, will be eligible to profit.

Since California and Florida proposed the legislation, ten other states – Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington – have followed. 

Brian White, vice president, and athletic director, who runs every sports program at the school, likes the idea but says it could pose problems.

“In theory, I love the idea,” White said. “We’re always looking for ways for our student-athletes to benefit, but I do think there’s potential for many unintended consequences.”

White said “college athletic recruiting is a hyper-competitive industry,” which might incentivize players to go to top college programs instead of smaller schools, like FAU, for more profit.

White says that after the NCAA perfects the system, he thinks there will be a way for students to legitimately benefit off of their name and likeness.

The opponents of the “Fair Pay to Play Act” say that athletic scholarships count as payment, and student-athletes shouldn’t get any other athletic-related income.

FAU football offensive guard Nick Weber, who received an athletic scholarship in August, thinks that may not be enough for some people.

“I mean the scholarship is great obviously, [it] pays for the school, so it’s a huge burden off of someone,” Weber said. “But for all the little things that you need money for like food… that adds to everything else.”

The redshirt sophomore says the idea behind the bills is good, especially in the world of young college athletes making a name for themselves on a national scale. 

“It’s most definitely been overdue. You see these kids on ESPN all the time showing their skill,” Weber said. “Especially a guy like Zion Williamson who got so much attention, but didn’t make a dime.”

Williamson, a rookie for the New Orleans Pelicans played one year of collegiate basketball for Duke and took the sports world by storm. The university investigated allegations that Nike paid athletes like Willamson “under the table” to attend college basketball programs it sponsored.

However, according to the News & Observer, Duke “found no evidence” of NCAA violations. Football redshirt sophomore safety Ahman Ross thinks that the extra money could help a student in the type of situation they’re in.

“I believe student-athletes in their tough predicament are deserving of it,” Ross said. “Because there are some athletes where maybe school isn’t their best suit, and being able to help their families back home financially could be a huge help.”

Ross, with no hesitation, knew what he would use the money on if he were to obtain any. “It would help me if I were to receive anything,” Ross said. “I would basically use it just to help back home with the family, nothing more, nothing less.”

While the NCAA has publicly criticized the idea of students mixing with agents and endorsement deals, to the point of threatening disqualification, their vote to allow it shows promise.

“I think it’s a fair criticism to say that it’s been long overdue,” White said. “We all understand the national narrative right now, and my focus is for the better of the students so I believe that the NCAA will take this very seriously.”

White emphasized the Fair Pay to Play Act could enhance the student-athlete experience. 

“I look at all of the 19 sports programs with over 500 student-athletes at FAU and I believe it’s been a good experience,” White said. “But if a student can legitimately profit off of their name, image, and likeness, it could do great things for students here.”

Zachary Weinberger is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @ZachWeinberger.