Podcast: Talking new likeness rule with Darren Heitner

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the new likeness rule that could go into affect in Florida soon.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre are joined by Darren Heitner to get more insight into what the likeness rule would mean to college athletes.

Andrew and Nick talk to Heitner to see what he thinks of the rule and how it could change things up for schools like Florida.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we’re back. As we promised yesterday, going to have a special podcast. We’re going to talk to Darren Heitner. Does a lot of things with, is it just football? Football and basketball, right?

Nick:                         Yeah. I think it’s going to be basketball as well. We’ll talk to him about it, because it seems like it’s kind of vague and open-ended. Darren is a double Gator and teaches as an adjunct professor at UF law school. He’s kind of spearheaded and helped kind of lead the charge to try to figure all this stuff out. He is much smarter than you and I, and this stuff is right up his alley.

Andrew:                 What Nick is talking about is the whole new NCAA thing that is being voted on.

Nick:                         Image, likeness.

Andrew:                 Yeah. It’s supposed to be voted on middle of the month, right? May 15, I think.

Nick:                         The NCAA kind of said that they’ve kind of agreed to it, but they need to vote on it.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         It wouldn’t go into effect until 2022, but the state of Florida has already passed legislature about it. It just has to be signed by the governor. That’ll go into effect before. That’s something I also wanted to talk to him about.

Andrew:                 California’s already done it.

Nick:                         California and Florida have already done it. Yeah.

Andrew:                 So, you’re getting several different states doing that, so it’ll be interesting. I’m interested to talk to Darren about this, but I just don’t know where this goes. You know what I’m saying? Does it go deeper? Like does it get so deep that now you’re paying everyone, or is going to be just the Tim Tebows of the world or the Percy Harvins, the big name jerseys that are sold, that kind of stuff? There’s just so many questions. I think that Darren should be able to answer it. Then here’s the thing, I don’t even know if Darren can answer it all, because I think there’s so many question marks. To be honest, when the NCAA does rule on it, are they going to rule on everything, or is going to be kind of a trial by error? I think, in a way, that’s what’s going to happen.

Nick:                         Yeah. The way that it was kind of released by the NCAA, and I think Darren took some exception to the way that they kind of worded things, and we’ll get his opinion on that. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s implemented, for sure.

Andrew:                 I’ve said this before. Do I think college guys deserve to be paid? Yes, but I think it opens up a can of worms that I’m just not sure we’re ready for. Like you said, Darren’s a lot smarter than us, so we’ll talk to Darren about it. Then we’ll come back on and wrap up what Darren has to say after he talks. Maybe you and I both will have a better perspective of what’s being said.

Nick:                         Let’s go. And we’re bringing a double Gator and an adjunct UF law professor, Darren Heitner. He is the founder of Heitner Legal, and really has kind of taken it upon himself and taken charge in what we’re going to talk to today and about the rights of student athletes. Darren, it’s a pleasure for us to have you here. We were excited to bring on someone who is much more knowledgeable about this than we are, so thank you for joining us.

Darren:                  Thanks for having me. It’s nice to be in familiar territory, speaking with Gators.

Nick:                         I’m a South Florida boy like you, but I know your heart’s up here in Gainesville. As much as I’d like to get back down South and see my mom for Mother’s Day, I think talking to you might be the closest I get to South Florida this week.

Darren:                  I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to see my mom for Mother’s Day with this social distancing requirements. They haven’t opened up Broward County. I think they already in Alachua, so you’re lucky there.

Nick:                         Yeah. Alachua’s been like the forefront. They closed Alachua before the rest of the state closed, but they opened up some stuff this week. I think we’ve had a lot less cases here than South Florida, so I think it will open up a little bit sooner.

Darren:                  So, talk to me. What have we got? Name, image, likeness?

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         You kind of spearheaded the legislation to begin with in the state of Florida, and then I know Representative Chip LaMarca sponsored the bill that is now sitting on Marco Rubio’s, or sitting on the governor’s desk. Can you just tell our listeners what is in that bill? Was it too broad? What is the whole name, image, likeness bill in the state of Florida.

Darren:                  You mentioned Marco Rubio, he actually would like to be spearheading an effort on the federal level, although we haven’t really seen a lot of progress there. It’s Governor DeSantis who’s going to sign our legislation that’s been passed in the House and the Senate in the state of Florida. It was really pushed off to Governor DeSantis’ desk right as Covid-19 struck in the state of Florida and in the country at large, so that has delayed the process, unfortunately. At the same time, they’ve loosened restrictions that would normally provide limitation by which he must sign the bill, or else it would be voided. So, even though there’s been some delay in signing it, it’s still very much alive. All indications are that Governor DeSantis will sign it.

I’m biased. I don’t think that our piece of legislation is overbroad or vague at all. In fact, compared to the 31 pages that the NCAA provided in its recommendations, our less than 10 page bill is quite precise and concise. I think it gets to what exactly we want to accomplish here and what I think a lot of states would like to accomplish, which is to create a free market for the players. Allow college athletes, just as their colleagues on campus can do, allow them to exploit their name, image, and likeness for commercial gain, and don’t put restrictions on it. To the extent that there needs to be a gatekeeping capacity to do what we can to avoid impropriety by way of boosters using this as a mechanism to just funnel money to athletes, let the universities control that through their compliance departments to best ensure that it’s actually authentic in terms of what these third parties want to provide to players.

What we’ve received from the NCAA looks nothing like what we’ve provided in the state of Florida, nor what the state of California has provided and passed into law, effective 2023, here in Florida 2021, and what 20+ states are currently debating and are considering passing. So, we can get into the specifics, but overall it was quite disappointing with regard to what we saw in the 31 pages of recommendations from the NCAA.

Nick:                         I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it almost seems like the NCAA, it was like a PR move for them, that there was really no teeth in what they said. Even furthermore in that, it was kind of them still trying to say, we’ll go along with this, because it seems to be the general sentiment, but then they still wanted to be able to control things. Saying group licensing is unworkable. To me, it just seems like the NCAA trying, in a time when people’s minds are consumed by other things, say here’s a good PR thing. We’re going to think about allowing certain things to happen, but like you just said, it doesn’t really meet what some of the states are already saying. The NCAA wasn’t able to meet them at the table, just wanted to get a good headline out there.

Darren:                  It was absolutely a PR move. You effectively put the right words into my mouth. In fact, Donna Shalala, who used be at the University of Miami and is now in Congress, point blank said it’s a PR document, and others on Capital Hill said that NCAA’s leadership is weak, that there’s not enough flesh on the bone with regard to this proposal, and that there’s many unanswered questions that remain. I absolutely agree. The NCAA, while it has its faults, is excellent when it comes to public relations. If you think about when these 31 pages were released, I think a lot of individuals look at that. They received their push notifications. They went onto various websites, and they see the headlines. Wow, the NCAA is actually allowing college athletes to have the same rights as everybody else.

But then if you read through the 31 pages, you realize there’s a reason why there’s so many pages and the important information that’s nestled within those 31 pages, especially at the later half of the document. You really have an appreciation for what the NCAA is trying to accomplish, which is to win favor with the general public and to try to avoid states from continuing their efforts to individually pass legislation, like the state of Florida, that would give the students their real rights that they deserve.

So, I think that’s the issue here, the fact that not much is said in these 31 pages. Yes, there’s supposed to be more in-depth legislation provided in October of this year, and then ultimately a vote in the beginning of 2021, but states like Florida are not going to wait around. It’s not sufficient in terms of what they are allowing for and the guard rails, which they use as a term, that they want to implement.

One thing that you just mentioned, group licensing. Consumers should be looking at that and saying, what the hell? We want NCAA Football the video game back. Without group licensing, you’re not getting it. The NCAA’s stance that it’s unworkable, it’s not unworkable. Maybe it’s unworkable if the NCAA wants to control every facet of this, which obviously they do, but it’s not necessary. You don’t have to create a union in order to have group licensing. In fact, the NFL Players Association, which already exists, has said it’s fine to take on that task and organize individuals in order to allow this to occur. It sounds like the NCAA just doesn’t want to hear it.

Andrew:                 Let me ask you this, Darren. This is a question that I think is out there. Is everyone on the team, per se, going to benefit from this, or is going to be you walk into the Gator Shop in the Swamp, and you see the #1, the #15 jerseys, that kind of stuff? Is it going to be more focused on the bigger names, or will from top to bottom see some of this?

Darren:                  I’ll address the latter part of your question first. I think without group licensing it makes it incredibly difficult to have names on every jersey and allow for the individuals to jointly benefit from it. I don’t see how there’s going to be individual deals that are struck between players and, I guess, a fanatic or whoever is creating the account, that would allow for it to be handpicked. I think that’s one issue that actually relates to group licensing.

With regard to who benefits from it, my answer is anybody who is now presenting with the same opportunity as anyone else. That’s our point. We don’t want to, at least in Florida, we don’t want a restricted market. We don’t want to say everyone has to be getting the same amount of money. We just want everyone to have the same opportunity to go out and procure these deals, or at least try to procure these deals with third parties and then negotiate them. That’s what a free market looks like. There should not be any restrictions put in place to try to ensure that there’s a level playing field by way of everyone making the same amount of money. Certainly, Tim Tebow as quarterback of the Florida Gators is going to make more than the punter.

Andrew:                 Right.

Darren:                  And more than a women’s soccer player. That said, we were talking with a women’s soccer player at FSU last year who had two million followers on Instagram. She’s extremely marketable. I’m sure she would have been able to exploit all of those followers for commercial gain, probably more than some of the football players on the team could have, especially when they’re playing as poorly as they have recently.

So, again, you’re going to have disparity in terms of earning potential. As long as the opportunity is the same for everyone, we think it’s a win.

Nick:                         I don’t even know if there needs to be a workaround with Title IX. I know that’s a big thing in college sports. If you’re saying America is a free market, a capitalist society, we’re giving everyone the opportunity. Like you said, in that instance, if a girl on the soccer team has two million Instagram followers, you’re talking about tens of thousands, if not more, for an Instagram post or a mention on something, and the earning potential for that would be incredible.

Darren:                  I mean, look, Title IX does not come into play with regard to this situation. To anyone, I’ve seen a few individuals write articles about Title IX, and it’s not clear as to whether or not it plays a role. I’m telling you flat out, it plays zero role. The reason is because the moneys will flow directly from the third parties to the individual athletes. The universities play no role in the filtration of those moneys. So, whereas Title IX is a concern because you, obviously, have to have an equal amount of teams on the female side as the male side, or if there’s any moneys that flow through the universities to players it has to be equal among the sexes, that’s not true in this particular instance, because the schools are really taken out of the equation.

It is somewhat of a concern to the extent that the NCAA wants to have its hand involved in everything. It almost seems as though the NCAA’s proposal creates additional exposure potentially from a Title IX standpoint, as opposed to what we’re proposing in Florida and elsewhere. That’s why hopefully the NCAA is able to change course, look at a state like Florida, where we passed legislation that we think is sufficient and substantial, even though it’s not 31 pages in length, or let’s get the federal government involved, if they have the time and capacity to do so.

There’s many individuals on Capitol Hill who want to and who have expressed interest for some time, but we had the impeachment trials of President Trump. We have, obviously, Covid-19. Who knows what’s next? There’s a lot of other things that Capitol Hill is prioritizing above college athletes’ rights and publicities, and I get that. I don’t know that we can necessarily hold our hat on the federal government doing anything, and to the extent that the NCAA wants Florida and other states to back off, they better up the ante. They better make some changes.

Nick:                         I don’t think any of us are surprised that the NCAA is trying, they see a revenue stream, and how can we get our hands in there and involve ourselves in that? Sorry to cut you off, Andrew. I’m just not a big fan of the NCAA. I don’t think if they’ve ever listened to the podcast or read anything I’ve written, I don’t think I’ll have a job offer coming from Indianapolis any time soon.

Andrew:                 Me either. Darren, my question is this to you. I’ll admit it. I’m very dumb on this law and this rule. I haven’t read up as much about it as Nick has. For instance, let’s take basketball, and football, I guess, as well. Florida with the Air Jordans. Would guys be able to benefit still from Air Jordan or the Nike brand, even with Florida being a Nike representative? How would that work?

Darren:                  It’s a good question. It’s unclear right now. I always use as an example, the NFL has a league wide deal with Nike, yet every individual player in the NFL has the ability to enter into arrangement with competitors of Nike, such as Adidas, Puma, etc. So, obviously, when a player is on the field, he must wear the Nike branded jersey, but off the field there aren’t as many restrictions. So, there’s still a lot of value in those deals between players and brands.

One concern with the NCAA’s 31 pages of recommendations is it appears that the NCAA wants to restrict individuals from entering into these branded apparel deals. To the extent that, let’s say, a school like University of Florida and Jordan brand don’t have such broad exclusivity that would limit players from entering into those deals, that could be quite lucrative. Those are typically the more lucrative deals that professional athletes enter into off the field, off the court, etc.

So, if you think about a player right now, yeah, when he’s on the field, obviously, he’s wearing Jordan brand, if he plays for the University of Florida, but when he’s off of it, how many of them are wearing other brand apparel when they’re just around the dorms?

Andrew:                 Under Armour.

Darren:                  Or Under Armour, sure. Again, to the extent that the deal between the university and the apparent brand is not so limiting, these could be opportunities, but for the NCAA seemingly saying we’re not cool with it.

Andrew:                 That’s the part that, I’m just going to say it like it is, that pisses me off, because a basketball player is known for their shoe deals. A guy like, for instance, Joakim Noah, as big as he was in college, why shouldn’t he be able to benefit from a shoe brand or whatever it may be? That’s the part of the NCAA that just says, get out of the way, you’re being dumb.

Darren:                  I think about Zion Williamson last year, for more recent. Look at what he would have been able to do accomplish. And why not? What’s the problem with that? The NCAA says these are brands that have had a recently troubled past, where there’s improprieties, yet the NCAA allows the universities to enter into these arrangements with these same brands. They allow coaches to enter into the same relationships. Seems like you’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth. I don’t quite get it.

Nick:                         I think UCLA is not returning the $100-whatever million check from Under Armour.

Darren:                  Exactly.

Nick:                         Because Under Armour had some UAA basketball team that there was some impropriety going on. UCLA is not returning that check. Louisville’s not. Speaking of Louisville, however much money they get from Adidas every year, and they’ve been on probation twice in my lifetime.

Darren:                  Yeah. Now they just got a new notice of allegations.

Andrew:                 Yeah. My thinking, and, Darren, correct me if I’m wrong here, but everyone says it’s going to kill the smaller schools. But, like Nick and I have said in the past, it is what it is. The smaller schools are not getting the same talent the bigger schools do, no matter what, it doesn’t matter the money or anything else. Like you’re saying, it’s really not going to hurt the little schools, because if that player’s that good to go out and get his own deal, then he’s going to get the same amount of money that somebody else does.

Darren:                  You’re right. That’s true for the player. In terms of disparity, look at the status quo. I keep hearing that this is going to create more distance between schools, but there’s already a lot of distance between the top level schools and the top conferences and the lower level schools, conferences that none of us even know about. So, to the extent that there’s going to be disparity, sure, but open up your eyes. It already exists.

Nick:                         What about the people that say the schools with the biggest donor bases would stand to benefit more, or now you’re going to see a car dealership in Alabama is going to pay some five-star recruit, here’s $5,000, I want you to sell Chevys in Tuscaloosa?

Andrew:                 They already do, first of all.

Nick:                         Now we’re just putting the money above the table instead of under the table?

Darren:                  Look, transparency’s better than not. I would be a huge proponent to have it actually above, so that we can actually see it and dissect it and scrutinize it. Yes. Absolutely. To the extent that anyone is trying to place a value on a player, I think that’s rather difficult. Data only goes so far. Value is really in the eyes of the individual who’s potentially going to associate himself or his company with the players. I think it’s very hard to play that regulatory role as a gatekeeper and determine what the value is for the player.

With regard to the state of Florida, for instance, we have a protection in there so that only individuals who are enrolled at a college can benefit from this. So, if you are not yet enrolled, you can’t enter into one of these deals with a third party for the use of your name, image, and likeness. That would be essentially an indiscretion that would cause you to lose your student athlete eligibility. So, the intention there is to do what we can to preclude boosters from swaying an individual to enroll at a particular university. Once the individual’s enrolled there, at that point it’s fair game. Let the market decide what the player is worth.

Nick:                         There could be handshake agreements, like once you get here, but what’s to say that’s not already happening, and how would you even police that? Something that’s probably been going on, those handshakes. If you get to this school, I’ve got this lined up for you once you get there.

Andrew:                 I think you just answered his question. It’s happening.

Nick:                         We’re just teaching these guys that Uncle Sam takes a lot more money than they think.

Darren:                  Basically. It’s not a bad educational lesson for them either. Although, in the state of Florida, they also get an added benefit of not state income tax.

Andrew:                 That was going to be my next question to you, Darren. Is that something that has maybe raised some red flags in the eyes of the NCAA? Let’s face it, Nick Saban, he has the golden line to the NCAA, and he’s not going to like the fact that he may lose a guy because he’s going to sign a Nike deal and the income tax. I mean, is that something that is out there already, or is that maybe just something still needing to be worked out?

Darren:                  From a tax perspective? Whether there’s an unfair advantage?

Andrew:                 Yes.

Darren:                  No. I mean, the same’s true in the professional ranks. If you play for a team in Florida or Texas, you’re going to have the advantage of not paying state income taxes, where if you’re in California, you’re paying roughly 10% on an annual basis. The taxes are the taxes. I don’t think that there’s anything that can be done from that perspective.

Andrew:                 Right. Okay. Let me ask you this too. From what you’ve been able to gather, do you feel like the schools themselves are for this? Do you feel like there’s a little back push from the schools as well? What are you feeling in a general perspective?

Darren:                  I think we’re at the point where the schools understand that it’s not something that they can or should fight, that there’s just such bipartisan support throughout the country. You have Democrats and Republicans aligned on an issue, which is almost unheard of in 2020. It’s coming. It’s a matter of when and not if. We’ve seen a lot of universities and individuals at universities maybe originally have some hesitation, really come on board and just want to figure out exactly what it will look like and how they should prepare for it. Obviously, there are still athletic directors who are not quite comfortable with it, but we’ve seen more and more individuals really jump on board and just want to become educated and best prepare their university for what’s to come.

Guys, I really appreciate you having me on, but I’ve got to run.

Andrew:                 Absolutely. Thank you, Darren.

Nick:                         Darren, thanks so much.

Darren:                  All right. Bye.

Andrew:                 Guys, we’re back. Really appreciate Darren. He had a call, so he had to jump off with us real quick, but really appreciate Darren coming on and helping enlighten us on this. It’s like I said before in the intro to this, and that is I think there’s so many questions that need to be answered that maybe just aren’t answered right now. This is my thing, Nick. All this is happening already. I think the biggest thing is now you’re going to have to pay taxes on it, and it’s going to be out there. You’re going to kind of know what every school’s doing, in a way. They’re not going to be able to say, for instance, with Zion Williamson and during his recruitment, he’s not going to be able to tell Duke, Joe Blow at Nike is offering me five years, $100,000 if I sign with this. He’s going to have to keep it cool, but he’s going to also be able to in his mind weigh the options. Let’s face it. Boosters are going to get ahead of this.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think the biggest thing, well, Darren spearheaded the legislation in Florida, and obviously California was the first state to go ahead and do it, kind of kick the whole thing off. Florida’s bill is, like I said, sitting on Governor DeSantis’, forgot who the governor of my state was for a second, sitting on Governor DeSantis’ desk. It’s going to be signed.

So, the NCAA came out and said they’ll vote maybe in January of 2021, so then that wouldn’t go into effect until 2022. The state of Florida and the state of California are saying, that’s cool, we’re going to allow it to happen in our state. We’re working on it. Like Darren said, the NCAA didn’t go as far as either of the states said it. They want to kind of control it. To me, like you said, it’s stuff that may be already happening, so just to get it above board. That’s good.

I think you and I have both said, listen, we think the players should be paid. The way that Florida’s doing it, and the way that he wrote it and that Representative Lamarca wrote it, is that the schools don’t have to control it. You’re basically just creating a free market. If I’m a regular college student who’s not a Division I athlete, I can start a YouTube channel, and I can play video games, and I can make money off my YouTube channel. I can start streaming video games on Twitch. I can go and get a job. I can do all these other things. I remember the punter at UCF had a big YouTube following, and the NCAA made him ineligible, because he was monetizing his YouTube channel. That’s ridiculous.

I think essentially what the state of Florida is doing, and what Darren helped bring to the State Congress floor is that these guys should have a free market. I think the biggest thing I took away from him, the biggest question I had, was about Title IX, because Title IX, so much of it, is restrictive. You watch entire sports get taken away from schools, because there’s no funding, and you have to have women’s equestrian, so you lose men’s baseball. I think that his answer to that, it’s a free market, and the schools aren’t touching the money, and they’re not really handling the money. To me, I think that was the biggest takeaway that I got.

Andrew:                 Here’s my question, Nick. I was going to ask Darren before he got a call. Yes, we’re saying the school doesn’t have to be responsible for it, but what if someone not affiliated with the school goes out and does this beforehand? Are you going to punish the school then?

Nick:                         What do you mean?

Andrew:                 Let’s just say, for instance, I don’t know. I’m just trying to think here. Let’s just say someone that is a Gainesville business goes out and offers Kamar Wilcoxson, that’s just a name that’s out there now, offers him something. The University of Florida has no idea he’s offered that. He turns them in. Are you punishing the university, or who are you punishing here for that illegal beforehand contact?

Nick:                         I think that would be the player. Like Darren said, that would be the player. Doing that and accepting money before you became a student athlete would affect your eligibility.

Andrew:                 Right. I’m saying that is going to be a school’s biggest thing. They’re going to worry about this and all that kind of stuff. I think that might be where the schools are worried in it. I mean, again, it’s happening.

Nick:                         I think that’s the thing. It’s happening. Now, if I’m the school, and I’m worried about that, what systems and things can we put in place to educate our coaches, all coaches, to tell the people that they’re recruiting? It’s not just us. It’s not just Gainesville Chevrolet. It’s everyone. If you’re taking money before you’re getting to campus, you’re going to lose your eligibility, whether you come to our school or you go to Alabama or you go to Georgia Tech. You’re going to lose your eligibility.

I think it’s a thing that might take some time, because it’ll be brand-new, to kind of wrap your mind around and figure out. I think it’s like you just said, and like Darren said, and like I’m saying, in the state of Florida, as it is in California and 20 other states that are getting legislation together and getting ready to vote on, it’s inevitability. Now, as the institution, if you’re worried about that, you need to find ways and figure out systems to prevent that and avoid it.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Avoid the recruiting part of it, where a student athlete, potential signee, might lose eligibility, because they’re taking benefits before. I think this is the way to do it. This isn’t asking the NCAA or asking the school to pay anyone. This is just saying let the player benefit off their name and likeness. There’s so many avenues to do that in 2020. It’s not just he’s good. I’m going to turn on my TV, and I’m going to see Kyle Trask selling tacos for Mi Apa in Gainesville, like come to Mi Apa and get great Cuban coffee and croquetas. I think it’s like I said before, there’s avenues. Monetizing your social media, whether it’s Twitter or Instagram, your YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, streaming video games. Lamical Perine and Jeawon Taylor probably spent 20 hours a week playing with Mac Wilson on NBA 2K, if not more than that.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Would you tune in to watch two guys who you love watching play football? Would you tune into their Twitch stream and watch them?

Andrew:                 Right. Yeah.

Nick:                         There’s people that make six figures, if not more, just streaming video games. Players, especially college kids, they got all the time in the world to play video games.

Andrew:                 Give me some NCAA.

Nick:                         Yeah. Would you rather know that your five-star running back is Friday night sitting on the couch playing video games, rather than running around town?

Andrew:                 Right. Like you said, I mean, like Darren said with college football, I think everyone wants college football to be back on PS4.

Nick:                         That’s the whole problem with the group licensing, like he said. For them to say, because to the group licensing, they’ve had it before. They had the group licensing with the video games before. There was just a licensing agreement just with the schools to be back in the latest Madden game. If you star the latest Madden game and do a career mode, they throw you into the College Football Playoff, and you can run up in orange and blue and play in the football championship game in Madden.

Andrew:                 Right. You’re exactly right. I mean, I’ll take it a step further. I was talking to Perine about this. The day after the Orange Bowl, he was contacted by a football card company, because they start to release football cards when they get into the Draft. He had to sign 2,000 stickers for football cards. I think with that group licensing deal, do you see that?

Nick:                         Absolutely. Trading cards would be right there. You’d be able to have a Lamical Perine University of Florida trading card.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That kind of stuff. Like you said, if you’re going to pay kids or allow kids to get paid, this is the way to go, more so than you’re getting paid X amount of dollars to come to this school, because that, in my opinion, is where you would really get the separation from a Florida to a UCF to a FIU, FAU, because they don’t have the money. FIU and FAU are keeping their program alive by going to play Nebraska or going to play Florida. They don’t have the money to also pay those guys. I feel like the people who say this is going to create more separation is actually wrong in this situation, because it’s not. Listen, if you go to FAU, a small school like FAU, your chances of getting a license agreement is so better than my school at South Alabama. We don’t have the music business, the stuff that Miami can offer those guys there compared to South Alabama.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’m trying to think of who it was, Chad Thomas. Chad Thomas, when he was at Miami, or Chad Thomas is really into music. When he was at Miami, I think his rap name was Major Nine, but when he was at Miami, he couldn’t sell his beat, but he had a beat that was good enough that Rick Ross wanted it. Chad Thomas could have sold Rick Ross a beat and made a bunch of money, but instead just had to give it to him.

Andrew:                 Right. KT

Nick:                         Great for Chad Thomas’ music career. Rick Ross used a beat of mine. Then if you are making beats that well in college, you can probably carry that on. Now you’re playing for the Browns. You can go ahead and sell your beats and do whatever you want. Like you said, KT. I remember KT had a show. He had a concert in Miami after the Orange Bowl, and that had to be cleared through UF’s compliance. They had a major headache with that and didn’t want to talk about it. Another thing with KT.

Andrew:                 There’s several different things that are out there. For instance, who was it that had, I’m drawing a blank now, the guy who was Olympic star and tried to go to Colorado. They didn’t let him go, because he had made money from the Olympics. There’s just all kind of things that can be done, and I think should be done. We’ll see. I think it’s the right way, the only way. I say this, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, and I don’t mean this to draw attention to myself or anyone else, but it’s happening now. You’re blind if you say it’s not. You’re lying to yourself if you’re saying it’s not. So, why not have it in the open and allow it to be legal?

Nick:                         I can already read it on the message board and people on Twitter, they’re already paid with room and board and tuition. I’m just saying it’s not the same. Being a student athlete, sure, you’re getting room and board and tuition. Not in all cases either. The men’s baseball players are not getting free rides.

Also, the restrictions on what majors you can take. You’re going to miss football meetings, and you’ll miss practices on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so you can’t take that major, or you can’t play football here. That’s just stuff that happens. All across the country, not just at Florida. They’re not getting the same opportunity that students are getting where they can pick which major they want to and one that they’re going to be able to get a great career in.

There’s so many football players that just get kind of pushed into majors that fit the football schedule that it’s not something they have any interest in doing, or it’s not something that there’s a great job market for once they get out of school, but it fit with football at the time. Not everyone’s going to play professional football. That’s the case no matter where you are, even when you’re at Alabama. Alabama’s not sending 85 guys to the Draft every year. There’s a bunch of guys that play at Clemson that are never going to play professional football that are stuck in some BS major that they don’t really care about, just because it works with football.

Andrew:                 Right. Like you said, there’s a lot of it. I don’t know. Like you said, you and I don’t have all the answers to it. Heck, I’m not even going to try to. It sounds like a good plan to me, but do I know all?

Nick:                         Will there be people that take advantage of it, whether it’s boosters or coaches or players? Sure, but that stuff is happening right now under the table. I think if you put it above the table it might happen less, and I also think it’s just the right thing to do. This isn’t asking for handouts. It’s not asking for the school to cut checks. This is just saying, let the student athletes, man, woman, other, make money off of their image and their likeness. I think the biggest one to me is that, especially in this culture, you and I are Millennials. I don’t know what’s the one after us. The one after us lives online more than we do. Just streaming. I mean, as much like Fortnite as these guys play, if they popped on. I’m sure there’d be thousands of Gator fans that would want to jump on and see Kadarius Toney livestreaming from the studio making a song. Josh Hammond was a big Fortnite guy. Watch Josh Hammond playing Fortnite with Feleipe Franks and Freddie Swain.

Andrew:                 Too bad Frankie couldn’t have been there, because he could have got Krispy Kreme.

Nick:                         That’d be the sponsorship. My one thing, it would be a nightmare for the schools. I’m guessing the schools would never allow it, but if I’m the starting quarterback at Florida, and Adidas says I want to pay you $10,000 a game to wear our cleats, sure, man. Florida would never allow that. They’re a Jordan school.

Andrew:                 Florida would get in major trouble themselves for allowing him to, because it’d be a breach of contract.

Nick:                         Right.

Andrew:                 I mean, we’ll see. My last thought on this, and it may surprise people. It shouldn’t. If the NCAA also thinks that this is going to cure all the illegal stuff going on, they’re crazy. It’s still going to happen. You agree?

Nick:                         Yeah. I think we’re both onboard. We’re both on the same page.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Nick, tell everybody where they can find us. We’ll get out of here. We’ll see everyone next week. Maybe some good news. Hearing some positive stuff about recruiting after our negative podcast. Maybe the Gators pick up a commitment. Who knows? Nothing surprises me in Gator recruiting.

Nick:                         That’d be nice. Www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast wherever you consume and listen to your podcast. Just search Gator Country. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. I’m @NickdelaTorreGC. He’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, go Braves and chomp, chomp.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.


  1. On many football players getting steered towards certain majors…for many players that are only in school for a planned 3 years prior to the nfl, it is often also their choice. We hear so many recruits say how academics are important to them. But rarely does that mean a player is prioritizing a great academic school….it means they are looking at the schools with the academic support staff to help keep them on track to be eligible and if they get some uninspiring degree, fine. But they are choosing schools that will be easy for them to get grades. It’s not all on the university. It goes both ways.