Open Letter from Gary Barta on Name, Image, and Likeness

Happy Holidays Hawkeyes!

During the past few days, weeks, and months there has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the topic of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL).

The significant changes in college athletics were on full display recently during the early recruiting signing period for fall sports. We’ve all been inundated with new terms like the Transfer Portal, NIL, and Collectives.

This open letter to Hawkeye fans is an effort to address some of the questions we’ve received and to clarify our efforts and position on these topics.

Iowa Athletics is committed to embracing and reacting to the changes surrounding college athletics, and to providing our student-athletes and coaches with the ability to remain competitive and relevant. We are equally committed to navigating these changes as we’ve always done…in the right way.

NIL has been changing and evolving since its introduction in July, 2021.  We’ve provided creative assets, platforms, and educational tools to assist our student-athletes in navigating their opportunities, brand, and earning potential. There are numerous successful examples of Hawkeye student-athletes getting endorsement deals, creating clothing lines, producing podcasts, and many other exciting business endeavors.

We’ve partnered with companies that provide our student-athletes the opportunity to enhance social media platforms, and educate them on business concepts like marketing, licensing, contracts, taxes, etc.

As part of this new day, a concept referred to as “Collectives” has been introduced and has been developing across the country. In simple terms, as the name suggests, these organizations are formed to allow fans and alumni to provide sponsorships and/or contributions that are then distributed to student-athletes. The money is provided to these student-athletes in support of their Name, Image, and Likeness efforts.

By NCAA rule, these collectives must be run operated outside of, and independent from, University athletic departments.

Several months ago, former student-athlete and long-time Hawkeye supporter Brad Heinrichs stepped forward to create the SWARM, a collective group. He has invested time, resources, and passion to create the SWARM. He made it clear from the beginning he wants to help Iowa Athletics evolve with the changing landscape and he plans to do it the right way.

I have thanked Brad privately and publicly for all he has done…and would like to thank him again. I also want to thank every Hawkeye who has chosen to contribute to and/or support the SWARM.

While the athletic department has some limitations in our involvement with the SWARM, we have partnered with the collective on several fronts. This fall, we worked with former student-athletes Jim Carney, Lon Olejniczak and in coordination with the SWARM to put on a fundraiser and NIL awareness event in our football facility. A few hundred people gathered to honor Gary Dolphin, Ed Podolak, and Bobby Hansen for 25 years of broadcasting Iowa Athletics. Proceeds from the event went to the SWARM.

More recently, a group of NIL contributors traveled to New York to get an inside view of Iowa Men’s Basketball. The trip raised a significant amount of money that was directed to the SWARM.

This fall, the SWARM became a corporate sponsor through Hawkeye Sports Properties. This important sponsorship provides additional opportunity for the Athletic Department to promote the collective appropriately and within NCAA rules. Access to the Hawkeye season ticket holder and contributor data bases are never released directly to a third party. We have, on occasion, promoted opportunities and/or services of various partners.  We will continue to do this in the future.  An example of one such opportunity with the SWARM, includes various coaches recording video messages encouraging fans and season ticket holders to support our student-athletes.

There are, and will continue to be, limitations on the athletic departments involvement in collectives related to NCAA rules, tax laws, Title IX law, etc. The concept and rules surrounding NIL and collectives will continue to evolve. The Hawkeyes will continue to advance with those changes.

Again, thank you to Brad Heinrichs, the SWARM staff, and every Hawkeye who contributes to this effort – and so many important projects surrounding Iowa Athletics. I encourage you to visit SWARM and learn more about how you can support Hawkeye student-athletes. 

Best wishes in 2023!

Go Hawks!

Gary Barta, Director of Athletics