'Here we go': Iowa AD Gary Barta says school will maximize NIL value for athletes

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta describes the last year of Iowa athletics as "a golden year." 

It featured five Big Ten champions, breakout individual stars in multiple sports and a national championship in wrestling. 

Now comes the golden opportunity for a lot of those star athletes. 

Iowa athletes are primed to profit off of their on-and off-court brands. With a projected Thursday start date, collegiate athletes will be able to profit off their Name, Image and Likeness for the time.

"It's going to be brand new for everybody," Barta said Monday at the Polk County I-Club Golf Outing. "We're going to learn a lot. Student-athletes will learn a lot out of the gate and the university will learn a lot. We'll adjust as we go but it'll be here July 1, so here we go." 

Iowa women's basketball player Caitlin Clark (22) became a national sensation last season. This year, she could profit from that via NIL legislation.

On Monday, the NCAA Council that Barta serves on recommended an interim NIL policy to the Division I Board of Directors.

In Iowa, where there is no state law guiding NIL rights, the recommended NCAA policy would have the state's four Division I schools create their own policy around the issue of athlete endorsements. The interim policy will protect athletes' amateurism that are outside of those states until federal legislation is created or the NCAA passes their own. Barta is the Big Ten representative on the NCAA Council. 

Iowa is one of those states outside of the eight that haven't passed state legislation. Last Friday, the university announced their partnership with a third-party company INFLCR to help athletes with this new phase. The new department is titled "FLIGHT." 

Iowa has several athletes returning with national and regional appeal: Caitlin Clark (women's basketball) and Spencer Lee (wrestling) are superstars in their sports. 

"As it relates to student-athletes, it will really be the marketplace that will determine [how much they earn]," Barta said. "If a student-athlete has something that people are excited about, they'll have a chance to market it on the open market and see what it brings." 

Iowa wrestler Spencer Lee is a national champion and a collegiate star in his sport. Profiting from new NIL legislation could be his next step.

What exactly is the marketplace for Iowa student-athletes? Barta isn't certain of the answer yet. But he said his athletic department will work to make them as profitable as possible.

"The reason I don't have an answer is because it's brand new," Barta said. "We just don't know what's going to happen around the country with name, image and likeness. 

"... We want to make sure our student-athletes are prepared and well-equipped to take this opportunity wherever it leads them." 

Kennington Smith is the new Iowa Hawkeyes beat writer for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at ksmith@gannett.co