How Will Student Athletes Profiting Off Their Name, Image, And Likeness Affect Florida's Economy?
Last June, Florida became one of the first states to pass a law allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. That almost hit a snag last month when lawmakers passed a measure that would have pushed back the law’s effective date by two years to July 2022. Lawmakers then reversed course bringing back the original July 1, 2021 effective date.
WMFE's Talia Blake spoke with UCF Economist Dr. Sean Snaith about the impact of the law on Florida’s economy. The following is an edited transcription of our conversation.
TALIA BLAKE: Why did lawmakers originally put that one year hold on the lot in place?
DR. SEAN SNAITH: I can't really get inside the mind of politicians, nor do I want to, but I suspect that there's a lot of uncertainty. This really is uncharted waters, as far as allowing this to happen for amateur athletes. It's a little bit of a Pandora's box, and I think that may have been part of the reason why.
BLAKE: Fomer UCF and current FSU quarterback, McKenzie Milton, spoke out in anger against the delay when it happened. He tweeted, "So when will the time actually come college athletes can truly use their own name to help benefit themselves and their loved ones, not just the NCAA and universities." He said, "it's comical at this point, let the kids play and let the kids get paid." Can you talk about what the reaction was, among other student athletes and their colleges when the delay happened versus how they feel now?
SNAITH: I imagine, just like the population at large, opinions vary among this subset of athletes. But, I think that those comments by McKenzie may have hit the mark because, as I recall, he also talked about the massive amount of medical bills that he and his family were subjected to after he had that severe injury while playing a game as an athlete. So, that may have tweaked the conscious of some lawmakers because you would think that you have a player out there making money for a school, playing for a school, get severely injured, and has to bear the cost of that. But, at the same time that same athlete can't generate outside income from virtually any source without potential penalties there.
BLAKE: How will student athletes profiting off their name, image, and likeness impact Florida's economy?
SNAITH: Well, that's a good question. I mean, obviously, this is additional economic activity, and so you have more workers. In a sense, these athletes are able to join the labor force through these channels. Now they have income from their efforts, and that money will, at least in part, get spent in the economy. It's not clear how large this figure will be. Not every single athlete at every single college or university throughout the state is going to be getting paid as a result of this law. I think it will be limited to higher profile sports, and then the higher profile players within those sports. So, it's not like a universal income for every NCAA athlete. Still,quantifying this and seeing how it actually plays out is something I think we're going to have to wait for until the data starts coming in.
BLAKE: So a lot of uncertainty, something we're very used to during this pandemic.
SNAITH: Yes, there are issues, and pros and cons on both sides of this. I think navigating a path here is probably going to take a couple of iterations. I don't think this law or any one similar to it is going to get it exactly right. There may need to be some revisions to it (and) some potential limitations to keep things from getting too far out of control.