LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill introduced in the Arkansas House of Representatives Thursday would ease name, image and likeness restrictions, opening them up for more for student-athletes.
House Bill 1649 would change Arkansas law to allow student-athletes to enter into NIL agreements as soon as they are accepted into an Arkansas college or university.
High-school students would be able to take advantage of NIL rights under the proposed changes. The law currently allows these agreements only after the athlete is enrolled at a school.
The bill also changes language in existing regulations, making it so athletes “shall” have a right to enter into NIL agreements. At the same time, the bill’s terms would allow an institute of higher learning or its foundations to develop NIL opportunities for student-athletes.
Not-for-profit organizations will also be allowed to compensate an athlete for using their name, image or likeness for publicity. If a school uses an athlete’s NIL for publicity it would be required to compensate them if the bill becomes law.
Also in the proposed bill, it would be against the law for a second school or foundation to promise an athlete higher compensation for their NIL so they will change schools after enrollment.
Under the bill, If an athlete is no longer eligible to play for a school for whatever reason, they do not have to refund any compensation they have received. However, if an athlete gets hurt while playing for a team, the team would not be liable for injuries that affect the athlete’s ability to be compensated.
The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Rep. Matthew Shepherd (R-El Dorado) and Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs). It is co-sponsored by first-term Rep. R.J. Hawk (R-Bryant) and Senators Missy Irvin (R-Mountain View) and Reginald Murdock (D-Marianna).