SEC Championship - Georgia v LSU

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 07: Jake Fromm #11 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs onto the field with teammates before the SEC Championship game against the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- If you see top officials from the University of Georgia's athletic department hanging around the state capital, it's because in the arms race that is Southeastern Conference football; Florida just took a big step ahead of everyone.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Friday that will allow Florida's college athletes to make money from their name, image, or likeness. The bill came with bipartisan support from the state legislature and will go into effect July 1, 2021, which is 18 months earlier than similar bills approved in California and Colorado.

Where things get complicated for the Georgia Bulldogs and the rest of the SEC and ACC is that the University of Florida, University of Miami, or Florida State University can now offer players the ability to receive compensation for their name, image, or likeness. No other SEC school can offer that kind of inducement to the top players starting next year.

Florida's move also puts pressure on Congress. The House and Senate have investigated how to handle the situation of name, likeness, and image for the NCAA, but have yet to come close to an agreement despite heavy lobbying from the NCAA. Without federal action, more states can also implement similar laws to keep their teams competitive in the collegiate athletics landscape.

With billions of dollars on the line for universities, along with multi-million dollar coaching contracts, other states may have to hit the gas to keep up with Florida's move or run the risk of falling behind in the quest to secure the best athletes for their programs.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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