Arkansas unveils rebranded NIL program for student-athletes

Arkansas defensive lineman Nico Davillier (0) takes a selfie with fans after his game against Western Carolina during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

The new initiative that Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman said will allow the Razorbacks to become more competitive in recruiting was announced this week.

Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek on Monday unveiled Arkansas Edge, a rebranded name, image and likeness (NIL) collective that will be used to support all 465-plus Razorback student-athletes.

NIL collectives are used to pool financial resources which are then given to student-athletes for the rights to use their name, image and likeness.

The new third-party organization replaces the university’s in-house ONE Arkansas program as part of a partnership with Blueprint Sports, which has emerged as a leader in NIL properties over the past few years.

Blueprint currently has active partnerships with 24 other schools, including Tennessee, Kansas, Villanova, Gonzaga, Penn State, Arizona and Kansas State, according to its website.

Pittman earlier this month hinted about an impending change in NIL fundraising that he said the school needs in order to help recruit higher caliber athletes to join the football program.

Yurachek’s comments on Monday supported that claim.

“NIL is integral to the success of our program and is reshaping the future of athletics at every major university nationwide,” said Yurachek. “We encourage every fan, company, alumni and all those who support the Razorbacks to contribute to Arkansas Edge as we work together for the present and future success of Razorback Athletics.”

Yurachek said financial support for the initiative will come through tax-deductible donations from fans, monthly membership fees for those who join the collective and through corporate sponsorships.

The university has already received a $1 million gift from an unnamed donor that will be used to match the first $1 million raised, he said.

The university’s goal is to find 5,000 fans to become members at $50 a month and another 5,000 to join at $100 a month. Membership packages include perks like newsletters, decals, exclusive apparel, and entry into special events and giveaways.

Yuracheck said Arkansas Edge will be staffed by a full-time, local team who will manage daily operations, which will include fundraising and developing relationships with local businesses who want to partner with student-athletes.

“Each and every gift makes a difference,” said Yurachek.