Jul 7, 2021 - Sports

Iowa's open field for college sports deals

A yellow and maroon T-shirt that reads "Best Kempt Secret" in capital letters.

Raygun is reselling "Best Kempt Secret" shirts after stopping sales in 2017. Photo courtesy of Raygun

The NCAA's recent decision allowing college athletes to profit off their names, images and likenesses (NIL) is opening up a new world of opportunities β€” and experimentation β€” for local businesses.

  • Just ask Raygun owner Mike Draper, who's back to selling his "Best Kempt Secret" T-shirts β€” which were quickly discontinued in 2017 after the clothing company found out they could violate NIL rules and jeopardize then-Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt's eligibility.

Driving the news: As of last week, all NCAA athletes can sign endorsement deals and make money off their fame in various other ways that they weren't permitted to do so before.

Zoom in: Draper, who owns stores in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and several other Midwest cities, said he's in talks with a number of college athletes, as many navigate signing their first-ever merchandise deals.

  • Now is the "fun time" for local businesses to enter deals with athletes because the market is open with little competition from major brands like Nike or Adidas, Draper said.
  • He doesn't expect it to be a big line of revenue, but said it offers "more material" to work with.
A screenshot of a tweet by @TravisHines21 showing a line for Hawkeye basketball star Jordan Bohannon's autograph.
A tweet by Travis Hines showing a line for Jordan Bohannon's autograph. Screenshot via @TravisHines21/Twitter

Athletes are already cashing in through some unique avenues.

  • Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy recently signed a deal with Cameo. Now dad can get a personal message from him for $40.
  • And Hawkeye basketball star Jordan Bohannon was hired by a fireworks company to sign autographs in Windsor Heights last week.

What's next: Raygun is planning on rolling out some fun shirts with household names over the next few years, before NIL's get "corporate," Draper said.

  • And expect to see college athletes profit off everything from signed jerseys to NFT's.

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