State Rep. Mike La Rosa is part of a joint Legislature committee to draft a Florida college athlete “Bill of Rights”, now that the NCAA has relented on years of denials and will now allow athletes to profit of their names, likenesses and images.

La Rosa, who chairs the Commerce Committee, has worked with the Judiciary and Education committees on the bill, which would guarantee health care insurance and protect their scholarship in case they are demoted from the team.

“That’s why, in general, the college athlete is there,” he said, referring to the scholarship.

La Rosa played baseball at Celebration’s original K-12 but never reached the college ranks, so he understands what athletes go through to practice and play while studying and maintaining grades.

Current college athletes shared some of the struggles and issues they’ve had. Everything around high-level college sports is professional, but our overall contention has been to protect amateur athletics … With the time requirement for classes, studying, training and practice, being an athlete and a student simultaneously is a full-time job.

Mike La Rosa

Representative Destrict 42, Florida House of Representatives

Last year, the state of California passed the nation’s first law allowing NCAA players to profit from likeness. With Florida following in line, La Rosa said he and his legislative cohorts are trying to refine the process.

“Here in Florida, we stand ready to move on the topic of collegiate athlete compensation. I am proud to be part of this process and stand ready to move forward,” he said. “Florida should serve as the model for moving the ball forward to protect its college athletes. This is not something we should wait around for our United States counterparts to work out or wait for a narrowly scoped policy from an athletic association that does not put the interests of the athlete first.”

La Rosa hopes to take the bill to the House floor with his committee late in this session (late February or early March), as a companion bill moves through the Senate.

The untimely passing of Kobe Bryant over the weekend in a helicopter crash makes speaking about this bill timely.

“He would have been a great test case,” said La Rosa, noting Bryant was one of the first handful of players in the 1990s who went directly from high school to the NBA, skipping college. “Maybe if there was some compensation in college, maybe he takes that step.”