Leistikow: Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum took $0 in NIL money. He gave $30K to the UI Children's Hospital
Tyler Linderbaum collected $30,000 in the first five months of the NCAA’s name, image and likeness (NIL) era.
The Iowa football star kept $0 for himself.
Of all the all-American moves made by the first-team all-American center for the Hawkeyes this season, none can top this: Linderbaum over the weekend presenting a $30,000 check to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which towers across the street from the Hawkeyes’ football home of Kinnick Stadium.
“It’s been kind of a neat deal,” Todd Linderbaum, Tyler’s father, told the Des Moines Register on Monday. “To know that my son had a little part in it, as parents, is pretty neat to say the least.”
Tyler Linderbaum, an ultra-driven and competitive athlete from Solon, was always more content to observe the NIL craziness rather than make it a priority during football season. But as his name started being linked to the Heisman Trophy conversation (the Hawkeyes got off to a 6-0 start and rose to No. 2 in the national rankings), Linderbaum hatched a plan to use his budding fame to help the hospital, a cause that is closely tied to Hawkeye football.
Iowa players often volunteer their time to visit sick kids in the hospital. Those fighting for their lives can receive a jolt of joy when they meet the heroes they watch on Saturday.
Early in Linderbaum's Iowa career, family members wore “Baum Squad” T-shirts and sweatshirts to games. The apparel was printed by a company owned by his father’s cousins, Craig and Julie Reisdorf of Middleton, Wisconsin, called Top Promotions.
That family attire had become noticed and more popular as Linderbaum’s profile rose as a dominant blocker. Friends and Hawkeye fans increasingly wondered how they could also wear "Baum Squad" gear.
So, Linderbaum’s idea was to sell special shirts to raise money for the UI Children’s Hospital. The Reisdorfs handled all the important work — including the design, which shows Tyler waiving to the hospital in his No. 65 Hawkeye jersey. They produced the website, the production of items and the shipping … and, like Tyler, didn't keep a dime. For a limited time, the website posted package deals for shirts, hoodies, tumblers and Koozies. There was also an option for folks to add extra donations to the hospital.
“Obviously, the connection between Hawkeye football and the children’s hospital is a pretty special thing,” Todd Linderbaum said. “So they came up with an idea and a plan, and it kind of just took wings from there.”
Tyler rarely tweets, but he sent out a goal in early October — ahead of the top-five showdown between Iowa and Penn State — to raise $15,000.
Within days, Craig Reisdorf called Todd and said, “You’re not going to believe this. We’re already at $12,000.”
So, Tyler, being the competitive guy he is, wanted to do more. He raised the goal to $25,000.
“Before you knew it, in a couple weeks, we had reached that goal,” Todd Linderbaum said. “Then topped it off at 30 (thousand).”
The website no longer sells Linderbaum gear. This was a way to raise money for the kids, not to draw attention to himself.
The gesture speaks to Linderbaum’s generous heart and football drive, of which he has both. Just last week, Linderbaum became the 28th consensus all-American in Iowa football history (and just the 12th unanimous consensus all-American) and graduated from Iowa with a degree in enterprise leadership. He topped off the weekend by presenting a giant check to a place that needs the money more than he does.
It’s expected that Linderbaum will declare for the NFL Draft after Iowa’s Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl game against Kentucky. The Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the year is a projected first-round pick. He’ll also spend part of January traveling on the awards circuit; in part collecting the Rimington as the nation’s top center.
“I never thought all this would be happening,” his father said. “Sometimes, you’ve got to pinch yourself.”
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 27 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.