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Supreme Court NCAA ruling paves way for college athletes to be paid as Florida law looms

Name, image and likeness legislation takes effect in Florida and a handful of other states on July 1.
Credit: AP
Central Florida quarterback Brandon Wimbush (3) hands off the ball to running back Adrian Killins Jr. (9) during an NCAA football game against Florida A&M on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Brandon Wimbush remembers walking into the student bookstore on campus and seeing jerseys being sold with his name on the back.

“That’s when it kicks into reality for you,” he said. “You’re not reaping a dollar's worth of benefit from it.”

Wimbush, who played quarterback at Notre Dame from 2015-18 before finishing his college career at the University of Central Florida in 2019, says he feels like he missed out on a lot of opportunities for himself and his family by not being able to profit off his own name due to NCAA rules.

“We put in so much time and effort and sweat and blood into providing value for the university,” he said. “It’s our given right to be able to use our name, image and likeness to the benefit of ourselves.”

But the tide is shifting.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling Monday that the NCAA can't enforce certain rules limiting college athletes' education-related benefits could pave the way for college athletes to be paid. Several states have already passed their own laws addressing the issue.

Next month, Florida will be one of the first states to enact its law barring the NCAA prohibition on college student-athletes making money off their name, image and likeness.

It’s the reason Wimbush and his friend Ayden Syal, a fellow Notre Dame grad, launched MOGL Inc., a Florida-based online agency designed to match college athletes with local businesses.

Syal said athletes will effectively be their own agents and will be able to connect with smaller businesses in or near their colleges or hometowns.

“We’re really on a mission to empower all athletes in the NIL era, not just the Trevor Lawrences of the world,” Syal said. “We’re really going to be focused on the college marketplaces in which these athletes are actually competing.”

Syal and Wimbush say they're optimistic a widespread change regarding student-athlete pay is coming soon.

South Florida attorney Darren Heitner, who helped write Florida’s NIL law, says while the Supreme Court’s ruling did not address the broader compensation issue, it opens the floodgates. 

"The justices have taken a very strong stance against providing the NCAA with any sort of anti-trust exemption, in fact, indicating the NCAA needs to be very careful so as not to … limit opportunities,” Heitner told 10 Tampa Bay. "I think the clock is certainly ticking."

The decision said legislation may be needed to address remaining issues.

In all 19 states have passed name, image and likeness legislation. But the dates for when those laws take effect vary. California’s NIL law, the first in the nation to be passed in 2019, doesn’t take effect until 2023. NIL laws in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas go into effect July 1, according to Heitner.

There are also several federal NIL bills that have stalled in Congress.

But before any legislation goes into effect the NCAA may decide to adopt name, image and likeness rules themselves. The council is meeting this week to discuss the Supreme Court ruling and possibly new pay-to-play rules.

Whatever form it takes, Wimbush says it's a long time coming.

"The typical argument is that a scholarship is worth more than compensation," he said. "The argument we make is if you're a musician or an educator and you wanted to go out and receive compensation for your tutoring or providing music lessons or doing something within the community, you're able to be compensated."

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