Everyone knows that KFAN has been a staple on Tallahassee radio for years now, and has provided the local sports and traffic coverage upstate. But Doak Campbell Stadium has a lot more to offer, and it was the KFAN crew’s idea to take the audience on a tour of the stadium this year and show them the new features the stadium has to offer.
On October 5, the Florida State University women’s basketball team held a big celebration. The reason? They were just one game away from becoming the first college women’s basketball team in the country to sign a player who is in a long-term same-sex relationship.
Tallahassee, Florida. — McKenzie Milton and five Florida teammates walked into Miller’s Ale House, sat down at a long table, ordered food and eagerly greeted the first fan who addressed them at their first paid event in the name, photo and likeness era.
During the hour-and-a-half session, they signed helmets and posed for photos, including a woman wearing a Florida Gators mask, which led to good-natured jokes from the players.
Several UCF fans, panting with excitement, came especially to see Milton, who transferred to Florida State in January after a five-year career with the Knights. One of them confessed that he cried during his transfer. Another asked if she could have a hug, and definitely took a few pictures. A young player, dressed in Seminoles garb, asked the players to sign his cleats.
There was nothing about this event that indicated the impending Wild West, as some coaches and administrators describe the new NIL era in college sports. Because the NCAA has provided little guidance on how to handle names, images and likenesses, and because legislation has been passed in several states across the country 1. The commencement in July is open to interpretation on every campus, media coverage has focused more on the impending disaster and concerns about how it will all play out.
Judging by the atmosphere of a quiet Thursday night at a popular sports bar and restaurant in a college-obsessed city, the excitement that day had more to do with the uncertainty that comes with unprecedented change and less to do with what reality will look like in the world of the NIT – players smiling, laughing, taking pictures and handing out autographs.
Across the country, players from all sports joined NIL platforms, announced deals, created fundraising pages and booked events. But they also continued their off-season workouts, competitions and team activities, and student-athletes continued without falling apart.
It’s an exciting time in college sports, Milton told ESPN. I know some people are hesitant, but in the long run it will be a good thing.
Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton has been an advocate for name, trademark and likeness rights since his time at UCF. Andrea Adelson
Although it will take more than a few days in the NIL world to get closer to answering some key questions about the student-athlete market, as well as addressing many gray areas in state law and NCAA guidelines, Florida State players at Thursday’s event had a lot to think about if that day ever comes. Cam McDonald said Thursday felt like a national holiday when the athletes could finally celebrate what they’ve been working for for years.
I focused on personal branding in high school, said McDonald, a tight end at Florida State. I didn’t know I was going to make money with this when I was a student, but that I can now spread the fruits of my labor and finally have my personal logo published means a lot to me.
The players didn’t tell us enough about what the NIA meant to them, because they were at the mercy of the administration, the NCAA and Congress while they tried to figure it out. In a vacuum of voices from players, naysayers have emerged who predict that teams will fall apart because some players will earn more in the locker room than others; that players will lose focus on the sport by working on marketing and branding; that they won’t know how to manage finances and taxes with the new income; and that they don’t deserve the opportunity because they are already receiving scholarships.
It’s not just about the money, Florida State offensive lineman Devontae Love-Taylor said. After all, our main goal is to win football games. When it comes time for fall camp, I won’t be doing any NIL stuff. Right now I’m concentrating on that, but as soon as the football is here, I’m going to concentrate 100% on that.
McDonald rebuffed those who spoke negatively about the NIL, saying: The people who say these things about us are the ones who coach athletes in general. They say all they can do is play football. I won’t say I hold a grudge because I let it bounce off me. To people who say things like that, I just say: Do you really know us as people? You know we can do more than football? With NIL we can throw it around, so I take these posts with a grain of salt, because these people don’t know what they are talking about anyway.
Countless players with talents outside of the university sports world – be they musicians, artists, entrepreneurs or fashion designers – have failed to utilize those talents, unlike the average student on their campus. That’s why the changes are so important. For some, it may just be a desire to make as much money as possible in college. But for others, it’s just a chance to make that money because there was none before.
I think it’s a great opportunity for people with other hobbies to show that we are more than just football players, Love-Taylor said. If you are passionate about games, you can make something related to games. Whether it’s clothes, food, you can develop and do other things besides football.
There are numerous examples of players in the recent past who failed to monetize their outside business interests or were deemed ineligible to do so. In the silence leading up to Thursday, Milton reflected on the case of his former teammate, UCF kicker Donald De La Haye.
In 2017, De La Haye was found unacceptable for making money from popular YouTube videos highlighting his academic career at UCF, and the public outcry that followed was one of the defining moments that continues to this day. Hague’s comment clearly influenced Milton, who has become one of the strongest proponents of anti-NIL legislation in Florida. It also had an impact on his former UCF teammates. At Thursday’s press conference in Orlando, UCF guard Kalia Davis said he watched De La Haye’s YouTube channel as a rookie. Their lockers were side by side.
On Thursday, Davis began monetizing his streaming account on Twitch, as it is now a part of the rules. Davis said football remains his top priority, but that he also plays sports in his spare time, which could make him money. Davis said De La Haye was a great inspiration. De La Haye still runs his YouTube channel Destruction, which has 3.4 million subscribers, and posted a video about the decision on July 1 that begins with three simple words: We did it! This video has been viewed over 125,000 times.
He crawled so we could run, so congratulate him, Davis said. We’ll take the torch from him.