UF educating football players on NIL rules

It’s simultaneously an exciting and dangerous time to be a major college football player. Starting July 1, college athletes were allowed to make money off of their names, images and likenesses, with some restrictions put in place by the Florida Legislature.

And UF’s football players wasted no time benefiting from it. If you’re the kind of person who’s always on Twitter or Instagram, there’s no way you can scroll through your feed without seeing some football player announcing a new endorsement deal or a merchandising brand. A few of the players also have YouTube channels that they’re now able to monetize.

Of course, like every new law, there are pros and cons to it and things that will need to be adjusted on the fly. It’s good that the athletes can take advantage of their celebrity status and social media influence by making money. That’s something that most Americans could do but had been denied to college athletes until recently.

Some star players, such as Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, will even make more than a million dollars.

However, there are pitfalls everywhere. Athletes who haven’t received proper financial management training might not save enough money to pay taxes with or even know how to file taxes.

Scammers are likely lying in wait to take advantage of cash-strapped athletes who are either too consumed with football, academics and their social lives to meticulously inspect every offer thrown their way or are simply unwilling to do so.

There are now a whole new set of rules that athletes must carefully obey to avoid being declared ineligible.

Coach Dan Mullen said his staff have tried to educate the players on the new legislation, but there are still some things that the coaches don’t fully understand either. This could be a lengthy process full of trials and errors.

“I’m really excited about it,” Mullen said at SEC Media Days on Monday. “I’m excited about the opportunities it presents our players. I think it’s great for the players, but I think there is a big learning curve. We had a team meeting on it this morning, of continuing to educate ourselves, educate each other, continue to grow and learn within the law. What’s the best way to help the players operating within the law and doing things the right way?

“So, I think we’re going to be on a learning curve here for a little bit of time as we get into it. I have to get special name, image and likeness lawyers interpreting the state law to make sure that we get it set the right way.”

Some athletes, such as UF freshman safety Donovan McMillon, have hired lawyers to help them build their brands, negotiate endorsement deals and avoid some of the potential traps associated with name, image and likeness.

Redshirt senior linebacker Ventrell Miller said they’ve had four or five team meetings to discuss NIL policy and building a brand. He also explained how the process works for an athlete looking for an endorsement deal.

“If someone is interested in you, they can [direct message] you,” Miller said. “If it’s a place that you want, I’ve seen guys going out to places they want to hook up with. They went out and expressed that. It’s a two-way street.”

Name, image and likeness figures to be a bumpy ride full of triumphs and setbacks, but the Gators hope to make it out of the other end in one piece through education.

Ethan was born in Gainesville and has lived in the Starke, Florida, area his entire life. He played basketball for five years and knew he wanted to be a sportswriter when he was in middle school. He’s attended countless Gators athletic events since his early childhood, with baseball being his favorite sport to attend. He’s a proud 2019 graduate of the University of Florida and a 2017 graduate of Santa Fe College. He interned with the University Athletic Association’s communications department for 1 ½ years as a student and has spent the last two football seasons writing for InsideTheGators.com. He is a long-suffering fan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Rays. You can follow him on Twitter @ehughes97.