Florida-Led NIL Revolution Comes, Athletes Celebrate

Florida gymnast Leah Clapper is as good at cooking as she is on balance beam. So a restaurant in Gainesville thought she would be the perfect person to promote their healthy menu.

Like almost everyone else, she would even get paid for it.

“I would love to,” Clapper told the restaurant owner, “but it’s totally against the rules.”

No more.

When the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, the NILE revolution officially began. The acronym stands for Name, image and likeness – three personal attributes the NCAA has long said it possesses.

Governments, courts and public opinion are increasingly saying the opposite. The Florida legislature passed an NIL law last March that came into effect on July 1, 2021.

College athletes can now earn money with their N’s, I’s, and L’s. They won’t get paid by their schools, but they can get paid for things like product approval, signing autographs and the publication of sponsored content on social networks.

How much money?

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This question has as many answers as there are newly created student-athlete-entrepreneurs. Analysts say an emergency playmaker could make a few hundred dollars a year signing autographs and eating at the local pizzeria.

A star quarterback or an Olympic hero could start dropping seven figures a year. That would be pretty much what a Division I offensive coordinator does to call football games.

The people who make the plays have long had the room, the board, the tuition and not much else. This gap has led to overthrow “amateurism”.

“There was a category of people in this country who did not have the right to exploit their right to publicity,” said sports lawyer Darren Heitner. “And this class were scholarship athletes.”

Heitner advised lawmakers to draft the Florida bill, which set the earliest effective date. Five more states have subsequently passed NIL bills, and the pace is picking up day by day.

The ability for athletes to make money is a recruiting benefit, and sporting states don’t want their higher education / athletics institutes left behind. The governors of Kentucky and Ohio issued executive orders over the past week allowing athletes to make money.

More than 15 states could have NIL laws by September 1. Politicians wrested control from the NCAA, which failed to come up with an NIL policy in the hopes that Congress would pass national law.

That did not happen, and on Monday the NCAA scrambled an interim policy that will allow athletes to monetize their names, images and likenesses. A one-size-fits-all policy is likely to emerge eventually, but the days of athletes vowing semi-poverty are over.

Alligators at work: Six Florida players ready to capitalize on NIL this year

“The genie doesn’t go back in the bottle,” Heitner said.

How does that feel?

“Exciting,” said Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam.

The excitement is tinged with confusion and apprehension. Universities have programs in place to advise athletes on how to sell themselves and how not to jeopardize their eligibility.

There are some business basics that most 19-year-olds haven’t fully thought through. Like how to start an LLC. How to hire an agent. And the most basic business component of all.

“If you achieve income, you have to pay taxes or the IRS will come and get you,” Elam said.

He’s a preseason All-American, exactly the type of “brand” that a company might want to help sell bagels or burgers or used cars to under-25s / sports fans. But athletes won’t have to play high performance sports to generate interest.

Milner Technologies, an Atlanta-based workflow solutions company, announced last month that it will offer a total of $ 20,000 to female athletes at four Florida universities. The deal was made through Icon Source, one of dozens of companies designed to connect business to athletes.

Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas is one of the athletes with the $ 5,000 offer on the table. She did not say if she would accept it, but the potential deal illustrates how open the market is to all athletes.

The main driver will be knowledge of social media and marketing. Clapper’s passion for cooking and exercising led her to create a blog called “Zest & Finesse” three years ago. He has developed a passionate following of people who devour Clapper’s recipes and advice.

“It’s an incredible outlet, but I’ve spent countless hours doing it,” she said. “It’s great to be able to monetize it and make a dollar out of it. “

Julian Humphrey is a highly recruited cornerback from Houston. He pledged to play for the Gators largely based on the state’s primary role in the NILE Revolution.

“It plays a huge role,” Humphrey said.

He has 1.3 million subscribers on TikTok and plans to promote his brand of t-shirts, hoodies and other products “Julio Island”. Florida security Trey Dean promoted his clothing line.

“The clothes fall off on July 1,” he tweeted.

The mere thought of such naked commercialism would have sparked a horde of NCAA investigators not so long ago. Now, coaches may have to deal with locker room jealousy over pay inequalities.

There are still rules regarding who qualifies as a “booster” and what constitutes “fair market value”. The law is written loosely enough, however, that a company in Gainesville or Tallahassee can come up with endorsement deals to attract a top quarterback to sign with the Gators or Seminoles.

It appears that only the most suspicious payments will be subject to legal scrutiny.

“Let’s say the University of Florida bettor is offered a million dollars for a single social media post,” Heitner said. “Michael Jordan doesn’t even understand that for a social media post.”

But what would a 19-year-old Michael Jordan have gotten for selling the sneakers (Adidas, not Nike) he wore when he landed the winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game?

Tim Tebow could have been the richest person on the Florida campus (Urban Meyer included) had he been allowed to sell his own autographed jerseys and custom black eyes.

Of course, not all athletes are Jordans or Tebows. But starting today, every athlete can at least try to be like Mike.

“I think no one knows what’s going to happen,” Clapper said. “It’s going to be wacky for a while. But I am really excited.

Rules NONE

• Athletes must report all business transactions and transactions with their schools.

• Athletes can hire agents and lawyers, but they must be registered with the state.

• School employees and boosters cannot facilitate transactions or remunerate athletes.

• Compensation must correspond to “fair market value”.

• There is no salary cap.

• Athletes can sign agreements with competitors of their school’s partners, but only if the agreement does not violate the terms of the contract with the school.

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