Sunday December 3, 2023

Latest Florida Fiasco

  • Two weeks ago, the Florida state legislature almost pushed back the date of its NIL law.
  • The fiasco illustrates the fragility of the NIL landscape.
Photo: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks
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Florida has long been ground zero on NIL laws, given that its law has the earliest start date of July 1, 2021. 

But two weeks ago, the Florida state legislature almost pushed back the date of its NIL law, causing 48 hours of chaos.

The fiasco illustrates the fragility of the NIL landscape — and plenty of uncertainty remains just seven weeks before laws take effect.

Midnight Appointment

On April 28, State Senator Travis Hutson quietly introduced an amendment to an unrelated bill that would delay the NIL law’s effective date until 2022. He did so two short days before the end of the session.

The bill, which also included an amendment that would prohibit transgender athletes from playing women’s sports, passed.

When word of the NIL component of the bill spread late that Wednesday, “the industry went into scramble mode,” Ahmad Elhawli, founder and CEO of Sportsfinda, told FOS. “We were contacting each other, reaching out to lawyers, reaching out to officials in government … It was MADNESS.”

Florida quarterbacks, like Miami’s D’Eriq King (pictured) joined in to speak out against the delay. So did football coaches like FSU’s Mike Norvell and Florida’s Dan Mullen.

Over that 48 hours, the outcry caused the legislature to pass another amendment that would reinstate the 2021 date — just in time for the session to end.

Potential Effects

More than 10 other states have passed similar laws, four of which launch July 1 — and all of which have their own idiosyncrasies. 

States passed NIL laws so they wouldn’t lose their recruiting advantage — four of five states with laws taking effect July 1 host SEC schools. Florida “created this urgency for states to try to give their institutions the ability to compete in another category,” INFLCR CEO Jim Cavale told FOS.

But if Florida’s law had been pushed back, companies worried that other states would follow — and that urgency would disappear.

In addition, NIL companies have relied on Florida to begin building their businesses and connecting with potential clients.

“Florida, for us, is our beta market,” Dreamfield co-founder and CEO Luis Pardillo told FOS. “That’s where we’re focusing our product.” 

If Florida’s NIL law had been delayed, “I’m not sure we would have survived, to be honest with you.”

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