By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Florida college athletes won’t get revenue-sharing paydays when they leave campus, as lawmakers continue moving forward with efforts to allow off-field compensation for athletes.
Before voting to back a controversial compensation bill (SB 646), members of the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee on Monday made clear they would reject a proposed amendment by Sen. Randolph Bracy that would have required colleges and universities to provide each college athlete a share of all ticket sales from the time when the athlete was in school.
“If you look at the billions of dollars generated by these student-athletes, we should have a revenue- sharing model,” said Bracy, an Orlando Democrat who played basketball at the College of William & Mary.
The proposal called for athletes to receive pro-rata shares of 10 percent of ticket sales.
When spread to all athletes, regardless of sport, it wouldn’t be “a grand scale of money” for each person, Bracy said before withdrawing his proposal. Committee members questioned if the proposal would make college athletes essentially professionals, a charge that has confronted the main compensation measure as it has advanced through Senate and House committees.
“If athletes are going to be compensated, whether outright compensation or for this revenue-sharing concept, I think we also have to take a look at how much money is expended for scholarships and upkeep,” Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said.
Bill sponsor Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, said the intent of the bill is to avoid paying student athletes for on-field play but to allow them to earn money from the notoriety that comes with playing college sports.
Bracy, Mayfield and other lawmakers filed bills for this year’s legislative session after California in 2019 passed a law that will allow college athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals starting in 2023.
The Florida proposal has shifted to a “bill of rights” that outlines how student-athletes at schools in the state can make money off their “name, image, likeness or persona.”
Mayfield amended her proposal Monday to prohibit booster clubs and primary members of such organizations from directly providing off-field compensation to students. Mayfield also put in a requirement that colleges and universities conduct financial literacy and life skills workshops with student-athletes. That is also part of the House version of the bill (HB 7051).
Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, added a change that would delay implementing the compensation measure from this July to July 1, 2021.
After the California law was signed and Gov. Ron DeSantis announced support for similar legislative efforts in Florida, the NCAA Board of Governors in October directed its three collegiate sports divisions to consider updates to bylaws and policies, with a January 2021 deadline to address compensation issues.
“They are going to propose potential approaches to this issue that I think provides a little more fairness and justice to our student-athletes,” Bradley said. “I would just personally — and I hope my colleagues feel the same way — like to see what they come up with. And I’d like to do so in a way that doesn’t disadvantage our student-athletes while they have that dialogue and discussion.”
Mayfield’s proposal must next go before the Rules Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican who raised questions Monday about issues related to agents, recruiting and the classes college athletes would be required to take.
The House and Senate proposals would prohibit colleges and universities receiving state aid from putting restrictions on athletes earning compensation or receiving professional representation. Schools wouldn’t be able to revoke or reduce scholarships of athletes who earn off-field pay.
The proposal also would prohibit college athletes from making personal deals that conflict with the terms of team contracts. The House also would require schools to provide athletes with health and disability insurance.