Heirs of the global trucking company J.B. Hunt Transport Services in Lowell announced Wednesday (Jan. 26) a new organization they hope will guide college athletes in the new era that allows them to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
Bryan and Mandy Hunt of Springdale, son and daughter-in-law of Johnelle Hunt and the late J.B. Hunt, announced details of Athlete Advocate Consortium (AAC). In a news release, the Hunts describe AAC as operating “in the best interests of the athletes while making a positive impact on the local community.”
According to the release, AAC’s first signee is Arkansas Razorback basketball player JD Notae.
“NIL policy has given college athletes the option to enter the business world, but with great power comes great responsibility,” Bryan Hunt said in a statement. “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.”
Financial details of Notae’s contract with AAC were not disclosed. According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, Bryan Hunt filed paperwork to create the Athlete Advocate Consortium limited liability company in October 2021.
An AAC spokesman was not immediately available to answer additional questions.
Notae has chosen to work with Samaritan Community Center, a Northwest Arkansas nonprofit providing food and other resources to families living in need.
“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.”
Debbie Rambo, executive director of Samaritan Community Center, said Notae’s personal experience will help give a voice and raise awareness to the level of need.
“Many people across Northwest Arkansas are unaware of the extent poverty and hunger exist in our region,” Rambo said. “That’s why Samaritan Community Center is excited to partner with AAC and especially JD Notae. He is passionate about drawing attention to this issue, and community collaboration is so important to the efforts of helping at-risk families in our community thrive.”
Mandy Hunt said in addition to giving back to the community, AAC differs from player-management organizations by focusing on the athlete’s future in the long term.
“Our interest in these athletes is far greater than how many followers they currently have on social media,” she said. “We care about their success long after they’ve played their final game wearing their team jersey. We also look at players who haven’t always had it easy growing up, those who could use a support system to help them accelerate their journey off the court or playing field.”
On July 1, 2021, the NCAA announced a landmark rule change providing athletes with varying degrees of new protections and opportunities to make money by selling their NIL rights.
At the University of Arkansas, anticipating the law change, officials announced the Flagship program in May to help Razorback athletes capitalize on the process and navigate state laws and various guidelines as the NCAA works with Congress to create overarching federal legislation. Campus partnerships with the Sam M. Walton College of Business and Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation highlight the program.
UA officials said 159 Razorback athletes had entered into NIL agreements representing all 19 sports and approximately 375 deals by mid-December.