Jordan Bohannon says he would return to Iowa for sixth season if state passes NIL legislation

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central
Iowa's Jordan Bohannon has been a key voice in the national conversation for college athletes' rights.

Jordan Bohannon tried to apply some political pressure Tuesday, saying that he is willing to return to the Iowa men’s basketball program for a sixth season of eligibility ... if the state passes a bill surrounding name, image and likeness (NIL) that he helped bring forward.

Jack Whitver, the Republican majority leader of the Iowa Senate, said in a subsequent interview with the Des Moines Register that the bill (Senate File 245) is unlikely to pass in Iowa this year.

Bohannon, Iowa’s all-time leader in assists and 3-pointers and 10th on the school’s scoring list, told the Register on Tuesday he had every intention of coming back to the Hawkeyes even though he had said in multiple interviews that this past season would be his last with the team.

“When we were drafting the bill and it was coming up through the subcommittees and it sounded like it was going to pass, I was 100% sure I was going to come back next year at Iowa,” Bohannon said. “Now, given what’s happened the last couple of days with the bill, I (chose) to formalize a statement to apply some pressure, I guess.”

Bohannon, in his statement, was correct in saying that the bill will die for the year if it is not brought to a vote in the Senate this week. This week is the Iowa Legislature's second "funnel" deadline, which requires most bills to pass either the full House or Senate and advance through a committee in the other chamber in order to be considered going forward.


"Even if we passed it through the Senate (Wednesday), it would have to get through a full House committee by Thursday, which is very unlikely to happen," Whitver said Tuesday.

Whitver, a former Iowa State football player, said he is on Bohannon’s side that there is a need for NIL legislation. But he did not think it was wise to proceed, in part because the Supreme Court is currently hearing a case of NCAA v. Alston that will have NIL ramifications. The high court’s ruling is not expected until June over the issue whether NCAA amateurism rules violate antitrust laws.

“We want to see a little bit more about what’s happening at the federal level, what’s happening with the Supreme Court, before we act here in Iowa,” Whitver said.

Whitver thinks the growing pressure on the NCAA “is a good thing. I think, ultimately, it’s better if they can sort it out. The NCAA has shown when they get enough pressure on them on issues and they get called out for certain things, they’re willing to move.”

One thing Bohannon has made clear in his crusade to help college athletes is that they’re not asking to be paid by schools. They’re asking to be able to make money off their own names. Bohannon was happy to report Tuesday that he and men's players Geo Baker of Rutgers and Isaiah Livers of Michigan have a long-awaited meeting scheduled with NCAA president Mark Emmert for 8 a.m. CT Thursday. Afterward, the three players will join other men's and women's athletes in a meeting with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (a proponent of NIL rights) and possibly the Biden administration.

Bohannon realizes he may catch heat for his Tuesday demands, which marked his first public statement since second-seeded Iowa was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament with a 95-80 loss to Oregon in the round of 32 eight days earlier.

“People are going to say I’m doing this for myself now, but there are a lot of college athletes before me that wanted this to happen and a lot of athletes coming in that are going to benefit from this,” Bohannon said. “It’s definitely an important issue.”

So if the bill dies, does that mean Bohannon won’t return to Iowa for a sixth season?

“Yeah,” he said. "Yep."