It’s time to get behind Davy Carter and the imPACKt Club

“If we don’t do it, we won’t have a team.”

Davey Carter pauses often during our conversation, not just taking a moment to choose his words carefully, but also because, well, this kind of thing is just so new to him

“It’s not going to be perfect, not right out of the gate,” admits Carter. “But it’s happening. Our goal is to be the most competitive NIL Collective in the Sun Belt.”

It’s happening, all right. NIL is real, and not everyone is eager to deal with it. Partly because there is no template to follow – every state has its own rules. Also, putting together an NIL Collective is like starting a business. You need lawyers. Staff. Infrastructure. Seed money. Time. Also, panic helps too.

“Red Wolf nation is running behind on this,” said Carter. “But we’re going to be up and running in a matter of weeks.”

Specifically, Carter says that the A-State NIL Collective (known as the imPACKt Club) will have a website, social media and org-structure set up shortly to begin accepting donations. ImPACKt already has approval from the Office of the Secretary of State and the bank accounts are established.

Also cemented is the Board of Directors, comprised of Davey Carter himself (Class of ’97), Chris Woodard (Class of ’08), Cody Brown (Class of ’06), Chuck Mitchell (NA) and All-Pro NFL Linebacker Demario Davis (Class of ’12). Together, they decided that it wasn’t enough to cater to deep pockets and regional business. Fans need to be involved. Fans need to own it.

“The supporter putting up $10 or $20 a month will receive as much respect as someone putting in $50,000,” said Carter. “If this Collective is going to work, we need everybody involved.”

It’s more than just filling a coffer. It’s about building a welcoming culture. Arkansas State fans do not have the numbers and resources of Power Five programs, but simply the existence of the collective shows that supporters are deeply vested in its athletes.

“You have big schools coming here offering our athletes a lot of money to leave,” said Carter. “But they don’t want to go. A-State is their home. ImPACKt will help make that decision to stay easier.”

It’s a Game of Catch Up

The NIL landscape is a Wild West of gray areas, state regulations, and uncharted territory. Well-heeled organizations have a jump on most Group of Five programs. Carter cites Ole Miss as an example, with its “Grove Collective” professionally and fully staffed. Meanwhile, The imPACKt Club is still filling gaps, though it as already gained donations.

“I knew we had to do something,” said Carter, when asked about his motivations. “It was either do something, or watch our sport teams collapse.”

Doing something is what most programs are doing, some with more vigor that others. In the Sun Belt, the batteries are still mostly charging. Coastal Carolina has the Teal Collective. Louisiana has ULtra. Universities like Appalachian State and South Alabama have similar initiatives. Others are still working on it.

What may give potential organizers pause is that NIL collectives are independent of universities – they’re driven purely by supporters, which requires a special kind of energy. Carter, a former speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives and currently regional president of Centennial Bank, appears to have that leadership quality necessary – and the Board reflects those qualities, especially a certain hard-hitting member who brings more than just name recognition to the table.

“Demario Davis knows more about NIL than anybody,” laughs Carter. “And he truly understands the athletes. Demario is just a good person.”

You Get What You Put In

It’s pretty clear to see that Davey Carter isn’t exactly a big fan of NIL and the transfer portal. Like many in the college athletics orbit, he finds this brave new world of play-for-pay contrary to the spirit of amateur sports. But as Abraham Lincoln once said, “it is what it is,” and Carter is determined to do whatever it is well

“People are focused on football, but this collective is meant to support the entire A-State athletics program,” said Carter. “It’s also a charity, so we’re not only helping athletes financially, we’re helping them grow as people.”

Yes, the imPACKt Club is a 501c organization. Athletes involved will be required to perform acts of charity of their own choosing. That may soften the resistance of those who feel athletes are being handed cash. In this regard, imPACKt delivers impact for the community that a straight NIL deal between an athlete and a business simply can’t.

“Collectives make it easier to centralize decisions,” says Carter. “Businesses can still reach out to athletes and make promotional deals.” In a sense, the community becomes the brand, with players employed in its service.

When Can We Contribute?

The website from which people like you and me can commit donations is still a few weeks away. However, you can contribute before the official launch by emailing Chris Woodard at or Davy Carter at

GRAPHIC CREDIT: Something I cobbled together