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Many in the NCAA are breathing a sigh of relief as a plan to reinstate Florida’s July 1st start date for college athlete NIL compensation law has finally been agreed upon by lawmakers. On January 1st, Florida’s former NIL compensation law—which had been in place since the 1970s—was struck down by a Florida appeals court. The date for start of NIL compensation was changed from July 1 to August 1, a move that left sports organizations and Florida universities scrambling to alter their financial plans.

As the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) nears a crossroads when it comes the treatment of college athletes in the United States, lawmakers in the state of Florida this week passed a bill to reinstate July 1 as the date on which the state’s NIL compensation law takes effect. College athletes in Florida, therefore, will have to wait until their second year of college to receive any compensation for their participation in sports, a decision that is sure to spark the debate over the treatment of college athletes once again.

Florida lawmakers approved a bill Friday afternoon that restores the July start date for college athletes to make money through sponsorships, undoing a short-lived attempt to delay the new opportunities for a year.

Politicians rushed to introduce the amended bill on Friday, the last day of the current legislative session. Once the new amendment is signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida is expected to become one of the first states to allow college athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). The Sunshine State was the first state to accelerate the deadline for approval of these transactions by passing initial legislation last June.

Earlier this week, Florida’s attempt to take the lead on NIL changes in college sports was threatened. On Wednesday, the Senate approved an education bill that had little to do with athletics, but did include a surprising last-minute amendment delaying the law’s passage until July 2022.

I was devastated. It was awful. We promised these kids what we could deliver, Rep. said. Chip LaMarca, author of Florida’s original name, image and likeness bill and sponsor of the amendment that passed Friday. I felt like we were letting the kids down. I was angry and determined to make things right.

LaMarca said the support of prominent coaches, athletes and athletics directors from the state’s top college teams, who spoke out Thursday against the postponement, was a major factor in moving up the original date.

Thank you to our state leaders for their continued support of our student-athletes and for promoting the changes necessary to protect their name, image and rights, Florida State coach Mike Norvell tweeted Friday. By listening and embracing #KeepTheDate, Florida State continues to be a leader in supporting student-athletes.

#Thanks to our state leaders for their continued support of our student-athletes and for encouraging the necessary changes regarding their naming, image and likeness rights. By listening and embracing #KeepTheDate, Florida State continues to be a leader in supporting student-athletes. #CLIMB

– Mike Norvell (@Coach_Norvell) April 30, 2021

Senator Travis Hutson, the author of the filibuster amendment, told ESPN earlier this week that he was concerned the NCAA might punish athletes or schools if they took advantage of the new law. Under current NCAA rules, athletes are not allowed to conduct business transactions while in school. The association says it is working to change its position and hopes to have new rules in place by the end of the summer.

Hutson said he wants written assurances from the NCAA that neither athletes nor Florida schools will be penalized for using the new state law in a way that violates the league’s rules. Hutson told ESPN that he met with NCAA President Mark Emmert Friday morning and received enough assurances to waive the planned one-year postponement.

Florida is one of five states currently in the process of allowing athletes to make money starting this summer. Half a dozen other states have passed laws that provide similar opportunities in the future. The NCAA hopes that Congress will help establish a single set of national standards for college athletes, rather than a patchwork of national laws going into effect. Several federal bills have been filed, but it is unclear whether Congress or the NCAA will approve the national rules before the states’ laws take effect in two months.

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