It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. And Mandy and Bryan Hunt have created a nonprofit organization that people all around the country are trying to emulate.
The Hunts founded Athlete Advocate Consortium (AAC) – an organization that provides a full-time team dedicated to building a student-athlete’s image and helping them reach their full potential. The AAC team does this by focusing on all facets of the student-athlete’s college career and most importantly, their future.
Their motto, “Don’t just play the game. Change it for good,” is exactly what they’re doing.
AAC gives student-athletes an opportunity to give back and further accelerate his/her potential, by showing how one person can make a difference at their individual level, whether they are a star athlete or any member of our community. And who better to model the best approach to philanthropy than the Hunts? Their family has generously given to Northwest Arkansas organizations for decades.
The AAC has connected University of Arkansas student-athletes with local nonprofit organizations in Northwest Arkansas. Mandy and Bryan are huge Razorback fans and supporters of all the sports, but most recently the couple has become closer to basketball. At almost every game, you’ll find them courtside. Ask any Razorback student-athlete, Mandy is the biggest cheerleader there is. Always in her Razorback red attire, she’s on her feet cheering the entire game.
It’s no surprise that the Hunts have gone above and beyond to help college athletes reach their full potential by founding AAC. Mandy has always been mothering – having raised five kids – it’s like she’s found her second calling in life being able to provide encouragement and a source of inspiration to the basketball team.
During off-season, you’ll often find Bryan and Mandy inviting the team over just to hang out and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Mandy states, “Every single one of our players has a story unrelated to basketball, just like the nonprofits do. Listening to these stories, I knew there had to be a way we could help the players while also helping nonprofits in our community. The NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) has allowed for us to create the perfect pairing. Our NIL deals are relational not transactional. Our job as fans and community leaders is to help prepare our student-athletes for success on and off the court.”
AAC is leading the way on innovative philanthropy because it provides a unique way to financially assist athletes while they help raise money for local nonprofits in need. The best part? Every penny of the proceeds go to the nonprofit assigned to the player. That assignment is spiritually led as Mandy says she prays over the decision to find the correct pairing.
What began in 2021 with one Razorback basketball player, JD Notae, who helped raise more than $50,000 for the Samaritan Community Center, has now grown to the entire Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball team partnering to help the Children’s Safety Center in Washington County. Jalen Graham was chosen to support the Samaritan Community Center again and Jordan Walsh was chosen to partner with The Jones Center. We can’t wait to hear what prayers are answered in the future for organizations and the student-athletes.
But the story with JD Notae didn’t end with his NIL contract. Due to the relationship built through JD and the Hunts work with Samaritan Community Center, JD, Mandy and Bryan are in constant communication. “We still talk to him almost every day. He will text or call in the morning checking on us and letting us know how life is in Greece. He is truly like a son to us, and I know it will remain that way always,” says Mandy.
People are calling the Hunts nearly every day from various colleges and private fund holders from around the country looking to replicate what AAC is doing because of the tremendous success it’s having. The great work these student-athletes are doing is not exclusive to AAC, so they can still receive financial compensation through NIL deals.
Many former Razorback athletes have started their own philanthropic foundations and are eager to give advice to those coming up behind them. Fayetteville’s own former Razorback basketball star Ronnie Brewer has embodied charitable giving, helping current players learn to build their own legacy.
Allison Dolan, AAC Project Coordinator, says this is a great way for kids to get involved. “Our student-athletes want to be involved in charitable works. With their busy schedules of practice, academics and games, we can provide them opportunities to give back to our community. We have used Ronnie Brewer as a great example of the legacy the players can have in Northwest Arkansas to the players. Ronnie was a tremendous basketball player and Pro Hog. However, he is also a tremendous philanthropist in our community. That is the goal!”
For more information, visit www.aac.net.
Photo caption: Arkansas Razorbacks Men’s Basketball players Barry Dunning Jr., Davonte Davis, Nick Smith Jr., Derrian Ford and Lawson Blake with Mandy Hunt