How Florida’s NIL bill assisted FAU’s female athletes

State Representative Chip LaMarca and FAU players from women’s soccer explain the impact that the Florida NIL bill had in college sports.


Photo by Eston Parker III.

Angel Rassi, Contributing Writer

On July 1, Florida’s Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) bill went into effect and all Florida college athletes have been able to make NIL deals ever since.

The NIL bill allows collegiate student athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness, which is something that they were not able to do before.


State Representative Chip LaMarca

State Representative Chip LaMarca authored Florida’s NIL deal and was motivated to help college athletes and give them what he believes they deserve. “What drove me really is fairness,” he said.

LaMarca mentioned how with the exception of major college sports teams, such as men’s football and men’s basketball, some athletes just get part of their tuition paid for books needed in their classes.

Florida was set to be the first state to put the NIL bill into effect on July 1, 2020. Due to the pandemic, however, the date was moved back a year and some states followed Florida to put their NIL bill effective date also for July 1, 2021.

“We ultimately were scheduled to be the first [to enact the bill] on July 1 of this year and ultimately a lot of the schools and neighboring states, specifically SEC schools. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana jumped on board and they had the same date as us. I think we were the leader [on] the date,” LaMarca said.

LaMarca spoke about how the Florida Panthers wanted to step into the NIL world and work with college sports teams to help the athletes. One of LaMarca’s reasons for pushing the NIL bill was to help collegiate female athletes.

“We would actually capture one of the things that was important to me, women’s sports, and making sure that they had every opportunity to do NIL contracts,” LaMarca said. 

LaMarca spoke highly of FAU’s athletic director, Brian White, and the university’s NIL deal with the Panthers.

“[FAU has] probably one of the best athletic directors and maybe the most progressive in the country,” LaMarca said. “This deal that FAU is dealing with the Panthers is historic. Number one: it’s a great deal. Number two: it’s for the right reason.”

When it came to student-athletes getting paid to play, LaMarca didn’t think that the NIL deals were a step in that direction.

“From the university’s role, the way that college sports is done now with education or partial-education being their contract with the athletes is the way it should be,” LaMarca said. “This was just trying to make it fair… I do think they should be free to earn on their own.”


Jodi Smith

Freshman defender Jodi Smith sees the NIL deal with the Panthers as something positive to show younger women that they can do the same thing as their male counterparts.

“I think it’ll help me by showing a female face, like it’s not just male faces that can do that,” Smith said.

Smith hopes that this motivates other women to one day achieve their goals. “I think it’s possible because I’m a female, so now other females can have a vision, like oh she’s a girl, I can do it too, that it’s not just for males,” she proudly said.


Sammy Vitols

Senior midfielder Sammy Vitols saw the NIL deal with the Panthers as a great thing for female athletes.

“I thought, in general, just for all female athletes only to get that opportunity was really good,” Vitols said.

Vitols spoke about how challenging it is for female athletes to get offers like the NIL deal with the Panthers and is grateful for it.

“It’s a lot harder for us to get types of deals like that and let alone with a bigger team like the Florida Panthers,” Vitols said. “It was really nice and cool to see and especially at a really diverse university and giving it to all of our women’s sports teams, not like picking one specific team either.”

Vitols sees this deal as an opportunity for the younger women that got the deal to learn from it and potentially get more deals in the future.

“I think if girls really have an idea of what they want to do or what they want to promote, with the deal coming from the Panthers, I think it’ll be a great way to get our names out there,” Vitols said. “Especially for the underclassmen, who are just starting, like if they sign that deal now, and they just build off of it for a few years, I think it’ll be beneficial for them over time.”

Vitols mentioned the importance of getting an NIL deal and how it is a confidence booster. “It gives females more confidence in themselves because they’re like, ‘people are recognizing me for who I am,’ and I think it makes other people look up to them even more,” she said.

Vitols spoke about how the Panthers NIL deal could open doors for more NIL deals for the female athletes.

“A really strong male program is taking, not only like a risk, but putting it out there for female athletes to where maybe other teams will maybe start piggybacking off of them, like this could start a whole trend for female athletes.” Vitols optimistically said.


Bri Austin

Graduate forward Bri Austin thought that it was good that the Florida Panthers offered NIL deals to the whole FAU women’s athletic program and that they are paving the way for others to follow.

“I thought it was pretty cool that such a big organization wanted to have a partnership with collegiate athletes, so I thought it was pretty awesome that the Florida Panthers kind of stuck their arm out there and just took it on,” Austin said. “I don’t feel like any other organization has done that yet, they kind of opened up the gateway for other programs to do that.”

Austin hopes that the deal brings a good upside for her and all the other collegiate athletes.

“I hope it can benefit me positively and other athletes here at FAU,” Austin said.

Austin also spoke about how it can be a good learning experience for the athletes when it comes to sponsorships. “To learn how to promote another brand with our social media platforms will also be an interesting lesson to learn,” she said.

Austin finished with some advice for future collegiate athletes and people in general.

“Try and find companies or businesses that you personally match well with and that match what you’re trying to get out of in life,” Austin said. “Always be open to opportunities too.”

Angel Rassi is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @arassi2000.