Legislation Aimed at Allowing Student Athletes to Earn Sponsorship Income

HELENA — A bill that would allow student athletes to receive money from companies that use their name, image, or likeness had its first hearing in the Senate Business Labor and Economics Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 248’s sponsor, Sen. Ellie Boldman, D-Missoula, said her bill would put pressure on the NCAA, which does not allow student athletes to make any money from their involvement in sports. 

“This is just the state of Montana telling them that in our state, you don’t have a right to tell our kids that they can’t own what they have a completely legal right to own,” Boldman said.

More than 20 other states, including Florida and California, have similar legislation. Senate Bill 248 would go into effect in 2023.

The bill also drew support from the Associated Students of Montana State University.

Janelle Booth spoke on behalf of MSU and the Montana University System as the only opponent, saying the decision should happen at the national level.

“It’s problematic to have some states passing things before the NCAA weighs in,” Booth said.

The NCAA is expected to decide on the issue this spring. 

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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