UA announces Arkansas Edge, an NIL collective for Razorback athletes

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 819 views 

On Tuesday (Nov. 28), University of Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek announced details of a new name, image and likeness (NIL) collective for Razorback athletes called Arkansas Edge.

“As we continue to strategically position our programs to compete and win championships within the SEC and nationally, Arkansas Edge is the optimum way for Razorback fans to support our student-athletes through NIL,” Yurachek said in a UA news release.

Since the implementation of the new NCAA NIL guidelines on July 1, 2021, there has been a surge in the establishment of NIL collectives, especially within Power 5 schools. The collectives provide a platform for boosters and fans to engage with athletes through NIL deals, pooling resources and creating user-friendly marketplaces.

Typically initiated by influential alumni and boosters, collectives facilitate connections between supporters and athletes in the evolving landscape of NIL opportunities.

“NIL is integral to the success of our program and is reshaping the future of athletics at every major university nationwide,” Yurachek said. “Arkansas Edge and its innovative team will work hand-in-hand with us to continue to connect our student-athletes with NIL opportunities that also serve our community, state and region. 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.”

According to the release, Arkansas Edge will debut Wednesday during the Razorbacks’ basketball game against the Duke Blue Devils in Fayetteville. Fans in attendance at Bud Walton Arena and those who visit the Arkansas Edge website during the game can enter to win autographed memorabilia.

Yurachek said the arrival of Arkansas Edge will mean the OneArkansas NIL platform will soon dissolve.

The UA is partnering with BluePrint Sports for the Arkansas Edge platform. The company’s national portfolio of collectives supports several NIL programs, including Penn State University, University of Kansas, University of Maryland, Boston College, NC State University, Kansas State University, Villanova University, Stanford University, Gonzaga University, University of Arizona, University of Tennessee, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Nevada and more.

“We’re privileged to welcome the University of Arkansas to the Blueprint Sports family,” Blueprint Sports CEO Rob Sine said. “Our team has spent a lot of time getting to know the community, the coaches and the administrators at the University. We understand how special the Razorbacks are to the entire state of Arkansas, and we are very privileged to bring our expertise from over 25 other universities around the country here to the Razorbacks.”

In Tuesday’s release, UA officials highlighted specific ways to support Arkansas Edge:

  • Donations: Make a tax-deductible gift via the BPS Foundation, a national 501c3 organization, to support Razorback athletes. They will partner with local nonprofits to advocate for charitable causes, including fulfilling that commitment personally with community service hours.
  • Membership: Become a member of Arkansas Edge NIL and earn exclusive benefits for membership, including unique content, merchandise and event access.
  • Corporate Sponsorship: Support ongoing NIL activities through sponsorship to align with Razorback athletes for endorsement deals, marketing campaigns, public appearances, autograph sessions, speaking engagements and more.
  • Following on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

“Each and every gift makes a difference,” the news release said. “Starting at only $25 a month, community supporters can become members of the collective and show their support for the community with brand-new merchandise showcasing the new logo. As part of its launch goal, Arkansas Edge is seeking 5,000 Razorback fans to become members at $50 a month and an additional 5,000 Razorback fans to join at $100 a month.”

The UA said an anonymous donor will match the first $1 million dollars raised for Arkansas Edge.

According to the collective’s website, Arkansas Edge and NIL activities complement but do not replace traditional athletic funding.

“Donations to the athletic department are still vital for scholarships, facilities, and overall program enhancement,” the website said.

The UA release said a “full-time, local team” will staff Arkansas Edge but didn’t name who that will be. UA athletics spokesman Kyle Parkinson said BluePrint Sports is in the process of hiring those people.

“The staff will work throughout the region to proactively fundraise from supporters, work with local nonprofits who want to engage with [Razorback athletes] and engage with businesses who believe that working with student-athletes can help boost their business and brands,” the release said.