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Arizona introduces social justice campaign, NIL guidance program

arizona-wildcats-social-justice-athletics-NIL-legislation-ncaa-programs-student-athletes Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats are about to return to competition in several sports, starting with football’s 2020 debut on Nov. 7 and followed not long after by the men’s and women’s basketball teams in late November.

But the school’s commitment to its student-athletes goes beyond preparing them for the field of play, as evidenced by a pair of initiatives the athletic department has recently introduced.

On Friday the UA unveiled its “Stronger Together” campaign, a student-led effort focused on issues related to social injustice. Earlier in the week the department announced it had created an “Arizona Edge” program meant to help student-athlete get prepared to benefit from the NCAA’s upcoming Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation.

Stronger Together “represents a student-athlete-driven unified branding message on racism, social injustice, and equality,” according to a news release. The theme was created by the UA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, known as SAAC, which includes representatives from all 21 sports programs. Stronger Together will be used as a “singular message for all NCAA-approved jersey patches, social media content and messaging points,” the release said.

“Stronger Together means coming together as one group to complete a common goal or overcome adversity,” UA swimmer Eric Correa said in the release. “Our Arizona student-athletes have come together during these difficult times because everyone wants to get back to doing what they love—their sport! So, coming together as an athletics program has been a very beautiful thing to see, no matter what age, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality.”

The Arizona Edge program comes as the NCAA is set in 2021 to approve legislation that will allow student-athletes to use their name, image and likeness for financial gain. There are expected to be restrictions on how this can be done, hence the need for an assistance program.

Arizona Edge “will focus on personal brand management, business development, financial literacy, networking as well as aspects of business law to optimize the decision-making process and enhance NIL opportunities,” according to a release, which notes the program was created in a joint effort between the athletic department and the UA’s Eller College of Management.