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Proposed bill could allow Arkansas college athletes to profit from sponsorships

House Bill 1671 would allow student-athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness. That was never an option before this was introduced.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For years, University of Central Arkansas athletic director Brad Teague saw benefits for student athletes go up.

"You can feed them more, you can provide more benefits," Teague said. "Then all of a sudden it was, 'you can give them a stipend up to the cost of attendance.'"

Now another piece of those increasing benefits may be coming to line the pockets of student-athletes in Arkansas.

House Bill 1671 would allow student-athletes to profit off of their name, image, and likeness. That was never an option before this was introduced.

"The goal is to make sure that student-athletes in Arkansas have the right to use their name, image and likeness for compensation," Senator Bart Hester, the bill's cosponsor, said. "Many other states are passing this bill, and we don't want our college athletes to be at a disadvantage."

It's something that's gotten the support of universities across the state.

Alongside UCA, Arkansas State and the University of Arkansas also put their support behind this.

"You know, before, you could be a regular student on campus, and invent something, and you can get all the money and accolades and everything from it," Razorback head football coach Sam Pittman said. "If you're an NCAA football player, in the past, you get zero."

This doesn't come without concern. Some, including the coaches in support, say this could create a hostile environment between players.

"Not everybody's gonna get a car dealership promotion, and get money from it," Pittman said.

It's something that Teague says will come down to the coaches, but it's something they'll keep an eye on.

"Are those the ones that are going to get the higher profile deals, or the larger deals," he said. "Then the offensive linemen is not? You know, is there going to be animosity because of that, that's a concern."

In the end though, they say the risks outweigh the benefits of getting their athletes paid.

"I'm happy for our student-athletes, I really am," Teague said. "They have an opportunity to play the sport they love, and then to receive some of the revenue that's out there for college athletic programs."