Jeff Long, athletic director for the Arkansas Razorbacks, released a joint statement with Christy, Jim, and Alice Walton that the Walton family would be donating as much as $1 Billion to the Razorback athletic department. Long envisions The University of Arkansas becoming similar to the University of Oregon. Oregon receives substantial donations from Phil Knight and Nike.
In the statement, Christy Walton, whose fortune is estimated at roughly $35 Billion, said the following: “The Walton family and Wal-Mart have an excellent relationship with the University of Arkansas. Many Arkansas graduates work in our stores here in Arkansas and a couple work here in the corporate office. This our way of giving back to Arkansas.”
According to Long, the money will be dispersed to the school over the next ten years. “We are still hammering out the details, but the money will be gifted to the university over the next ten years, although a lot of it will be products for our student athletes and programs. We believe this will give us a boost to rise to the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference.”
Arkansas’ contract with Nike expires at the end of the year. Part of the compensation from Wal-Mart will be to provide uniforms and apparel to the Arkansas athletic teams. Jim Walton says this will greatly benefit Arkansas since Razorback teams will not be locked into Nike, one supplier. “We’ve had preliminary talks with Hanes, Converse, Keds, Vans, and Looney Toons to supply Razorback apparel. There are others that could be brought on board later.”
The improvements will also be seen in other forms within the Razorback athletic department. Up to half of the concession lines at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium will be run by Sam’s Club. “This will be great for everyone involved,” said Long. “We’ll sell hot dogs in bundles of 50, hamburgers in bundles of 12, and 32 packs of Shasta Soda. So, instead of having long concession lines, one fan can order food for several rows of Razorback fans while other fans stay and enjoy the game.”
These are exciting times for the University of Arkansas.