UA looking to fill senior AD position

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, January 24, 2021

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas athletic department wants to get ahead of the impending legislation that will allow college athletes to capitalize on their marketability.

So the UA has advertised for a new senior athletics director role that will serve as a facilitator for athletes in their personal branding, or what is commonly called name, image and likeness.

The NCAA legislation to approve of NIL advancement, tabled in meetings last week, has been sidetracked somewhat due to the covid-19 pandemic, but those in college athletics understand it is on the way.

“The name image and likeness train is coming down the track quickly,” Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said on Thursday. “Even though that was tabled at last week’s NCAA meetings, there’s still state legislation in many states across our country. We believe there will be federal legislation. That’s coming.”

The position will be called a senior associate athletic director for athlete brand development and inclusive excellence.

Yurachek said the deadline for applications to the position was Friday. He hopes to have the position filled in March.

According to the position listing at the UA, the new director will provide “key leadership for the newly created Athlete Brand Development unit” and will be focused on NCAA NIL legislation as well as “provide leadership on departmental efforts to vie for the NCAA Diversity and Inclusion Award and similar recognitions.”

Yurachek’s description of the job is “helping our student athletes from the time they arrive on campus [to] build their brand. I mean all of our student athletes have a brand, and that’s really what name, image, and likeness is.

“It’s about the student athletes personal brand and we want to teach them how to build their brand, to build their brand through social media. The do’s and dont’s about social media.”

Yurachek said the UA was planning to offer the proper legal advice with the oncoming NIL opportunities so athletes remain in compliance with the various sets of guidelines.

“Really this is kind of a blank canvas for us, but my vision for this position is that they really help the student athletes from their freshman year to their senior year build a solid brand that is a benefit to the student athletes throughout their life and if it’s a financial benefit for them while they’re here at the University of Arkansas, so be it,” Yurachek said.

A good example of the upcoming NIL opportunities could be applied to the YouTube channel created by junior receiver Mike Woods. Called “WoodVille,” the site currently has more than 3,800 subscribers. As of now, Woods cannot profit from his channel by accepting advertising.

Depending on how the NIL legislation is written and interpreted, a site like Woods’ might be allowed to accept compensation from advertisers interested in having their goods or services promoted on his channel.

In an interview conducted last summer, UA deputy athletic director Jon Fagg said the passing of NIL legislation was only a matter of time and that athletic departments that were prepared for it could be ahead of the game.

“If NIL passes, there will be some initial things that happen, and then in a year or two it’ll settle in,” Fagg said. “And the kids who deserve it and the kids who have great personalities or are great players or have a story, they’ll monetize it and the kids who can’t won’t.”

Yurachek was asked about hiring for the position at a time when the budget shortfall in fiscal year 2020-21 could exceed $25 million for a department that has worked with a $125 million budget in recent years.

“Many schools have invested in a third-party company to manage that for them,” Yurachek said. “I thought it was a better resource for our student-athletes to have someone internal that could help them manage the launch of the name image and likeness and their brand building. So that’s why we’re making that investment right now.”

The new associate athletic director will also coordinate with the school’s NIL working group, the Walton College of Business and the Office of Student-Athlete Development to develop brand building and NIL educational curriculum for all student-athletes.

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