As the world attempts to bring people back into venues, FAU President John Kelly announced in March that the campus would fully re-open to students in the fall of 2021. Along with this announcement, a spokesperson for FAU said that students and faculty will not be required to be fully vaccinated to return to campus. This will bring about major changes for FAU Athletics.
FAU Athletics Director Brian White said that student-athletes will not be required to take any of the vaccines available to the public. Student-athletes who choose not to take the vaccine will be subject to testing and contact tracing, according to FAU athletics. “COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and quarantine for fully vaccinated individuals will be eliminated, as long as they remain asymptomatic, beginning two weeks after their final vaccine dose, according to C-USA protocols,” White said.
In a statement provided by FAU Athletics, the university currently doesn’t have a headcount of student-athletes and coaches who are fully vaccinated. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellinger, some schools such as Clemson, Ole Miss, and Charlotte have below 20% of their football team fully vaccinated. The NCAA said on April 29 that fully vaccinated athletes will not need to be quarantined or required to be tested after coming in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes is our number one priority,” White said. “We will continue to encourage risk mitigation strategies for our student-athletes and staff against Covid-19, as well as other illnesses and injuries, while taking into account recommendations from federal, state, local, and campus health authorities.”
In addition to new NCAA rules regarding COVID-19, massive state laws regarding Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) are headed towards the state of Florida this summer. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis passed a NIL bill allowing student-athletes to make money based on their Name, Image, and Likeness. The law is scheduled to go into effect this summer on July 1 and is one of five states with NIL laws going into effect in the summer of 2021.
“We are extremely supportive of and excited about the passing of NIL legislation in Florida,” White said. “We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the FAU student-athlete experience and we see this as an incredible opportunity for our student-athletes.”
The university will be partnering with Opendorse Ready to provide “endorsement management solutions” to prepare student-athletes for the NIL policies, White said. Opendorse Ready will give student-athletes access to a social media assessment that will help them improve their social media profiles, make them more attractive for sponsorship and help them hone in on their brand. White added that FAU Athletics will be providing continuing education sessions and information to its student-athletes regarding “NIL, time management, financial literacy, and other topics.” However, FAU Athletics said that they are not allowed to provide student-athletes with any assistance with finding potential sponsors or agents.
Some states have smaller rules embedded in their NIL laws that will be passed. For example, Alabama prohibits student-athletes from doing deals with alcohol companies. In Florida’s NIL bill, universities must have student-athletes participate in a “financial literacy and life skills workshop” that will include sessions on “financial aid, debt management, and a recommended budget” for student-athletes. This will take place in their first and third year at the university.
White said that FAU Athletics have participated in “many” conversations with student-athletes regarding the NIL rule, and those conversations will continue through formal education sessions and informal conversations.
NCAA President Mark Emmert recently said in an interview with the New York Times that he wanted sweeping NIL rules passed by the NCAA before the July 1 deadline. However, if the NCAA were to fight back against these state laws, White said that there would be “no issue” for FAU because state law supersedes NCAA regulations.
Joseph Acosta is the Business Manager of the Florida Atlantic University Press. For more inquiries regarding this story or any other story, email him at [email protected] or tweet him @acosta32_jp.