Bryan Hunt, the son of the founders of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. in Lowell, has launched an organization that pairs college athletes with nonprofit community groups through name image and likeness agreements.
Hunt and his wife and co-founder, Mandy, announced that the Athlete Advocate Consortium had signed University of Arkansas senior basketball player J.D. Notae as the group’s first client. Notae said he would work with the Samaritan Community Center, which works to provide food and other necessities to people in need.
Hunt said the AAC isn’t a typical NIL group that pays an athlete to advertise a company. He said the goal of the AAC is to provide a host of services for the athletes while helping make a positive impact on the community.
“NIL policy has given college athletes the option to enter the business world, but with great power comes great responsibility,” Bryan Hunt said. “AAC connects these college athletes with a local nonprofit, not only to give back to a cause they care about but to also bring awareness to all of the good these organizations are doing to help our communities.”
Notae, of Covington, Georgia, transferred to Arkansas from Jacksonville (Florida) University in 2019 and, after sitting out a season, averaged 12.8 points to help the Razorbacks reach the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament. This year he is averaging close to 19 points a game as a senior.
“Growing up in a family that struggled to put dinner on the table from time to time, this issue is close to my heart,” Notae said. “I’ve always felt like if I was ever in the position to help another family who needs a little help making sure their kids get good meals I would. AAC has given me the opportunity to put the spotlight on Samaritan Community Center so all the members of our community can see the good work they do and learn about ways they can help.”
When the NCAA allowed athletes to profit from NIL agreements this summer, there was a rush of deals between businesses and players. The University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University in Jonesboro created websites to aid and monitor their athletes’ NIL agreements.
The NIL agreements are most often announced by the athletes themselves on their social media channels, sometimes with a mini-commercial thrown in. NCAA regulations prohibit athletes from receiving performance benefits or using university facilities or apparel in their NIL appearances.
In recent weeks, several prominent Arkansas companies have announced NIL deals with athletes. Stephens Inc. of Little Rock announced an agreement with Arkansas linebacker Bumper Pool, as well as a sponsorship with former UA and current LPGA golfer Brooke Matthews. Westrock Orthodontics in Fayetteville announced an NIL agreement with UA basketball player Au’Diese Toney.