Mar 24, 2023 - News

Iowa colleges decline to disclose NIL information

Illustration of a hand whispering into Benjamin Franklin's ear.  

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Iowa's three regent universities won't say how many contracts or much money their student athletes report earning in name-image-likeness (NIL) agreements.

Why it matters: NIL payments are changing the complexion of college athletics as some players amass millions of followers on platforms like TikTok and ink deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • The public is being left in the dark about how big of a role NIL money may play in decisions at the state's universities, Randy Evans, executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, tells Axios.

Flashback: The NCAA in 2021 lifted its long-standing ban against athletes earning money from sponsorship and endorsement deals after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the restrictions violated antitrust laws.

Driving the news: The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa each separately cited federal and state laws in denying Axios' request for NIL information filed by students.

  • They also denied a second request for aggregate university NIL data that would not identify students or even specific sports.

Meanwhile, colleges like the University of Minnesota have provided Axios with aggregate data showing hundreds of athletes have entered into NIL contracts.

  • At the University of Texas, those amounted to more than $5 million between August 2022 and mid-February, Axios' Keldy Ortiz and Asher Price report.

What they're saying: The data is made up of student education records and are confidential even in aggregate form, Ann Frances Goff, UI's transparency officer tells Axios.

  • But Evans contends the cited laws are widely misunderstood or purposely overused by universities. State and federal lawmakers need to better define the parameters of the laws, he said.
A screenshot of Caitlin Clark.
Caitlin Clark this month starred in a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses ad in what is believed to be the first NIL agreement to advocate for federal policy. Screenshot: Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

The big picture: Sweet 16 superstars like UI's Caitlin Clark — who’s near the top of On3's NIL valuation rankings for women’s basketball players — have signed deals with major brands like Nike and Buick, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

  • Men’s and women’s basketball players trail only football players in total NIL compensation through February, per Opendorse, an athletic marketplace technology company.
  • Average compensation in the "the billion-dollar name, image and likeness industry" is more than $2,000 per deal for some positions on the court, according to Opendorse.

Of note: Clark may delay her professional career for a fifth college season but NIL deals won't be a contributing factor to her decision, Sports Illustrated reports.


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