Is Iowa behind on NIL strategy? Hawkeyes athletic director Gary Barta says no. Here's why.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta has heard the notion that they've fallen behind in the Name, Image, Likeness space.

After all, within the Big Ten, there's been plenty of NIL activity. 

Ohio State sent out a press release in January reporting earnings of $2.98 million for their student athletes to that point. As of July, they've surpassed 1,000 deals for their student-athletes. Elsewhere, NIL collectives have launched at nine other Big Ten schools, including divisional foes Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue. NIL collectives are independent organizations, often led by alumni, that help facilitate deals for student-athletes at a university. All launching before Iowa. 

Despite this, Barta feels like Iowa navigated the first year of NIL successfully. Several notable athletes have secured deals on their own at Iowa including basketball players Caitlin Clark (H&R Block, Hy-Vee), and Connor and Patrick McCaffery (T'd up! podcast sponsored by Estalla's Fresh Mex) and wrestler Spencer Lee (Sino Global Capital). 

"When it's not a recruiting inducement and it's truly a name, image and likeness, our student-athletes I think did a wonderful job," Barta said. "I know some have suggested that we're behind. I don't feel that way because I want to do it the right way and do something that would be sustainable, and some of the things that are going on, one, are either borderline or flat-out against the rules, and then others I just don't know if they're sustainable." 

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta stands on the Kinnick Stadium field with former Iowa president J. Bruce Harreld last fall.

More:Four takeaways from Iowa AD Gary Barta's media session: From Big Ten expansion to finances

Iowa City NIL Club launches, with more collectives possible 

Last week, Iowa's first NIL collective was announced. The Iowa City NIL Club, working exclusively with Iowa football, is offering membership to 2,000 fans for $199 that includes exclusive digital and in-person events with players and other perks throughout the year.

But it won't be the only collective in Iowa City. 

Barta said last Friday that there's another group that's been directly in contact with the university and hopes to launch soon. He didn't specify whether it would serve a broader scope of Iowa athletes. Additionally, he noted another organization working to put on a banquet at some point this year with all proceeds going toward an NIL fund. 

"There's a group I'm most familiar with that has been in contact with us," Barta said. "They want to do it the right way. They're having great success in generating some initial money and probably in the next week or two they plan to make a public announcement." 

The newly announced Iowa City NIL Club will work directly with Iowa football to connect players with fans.

Iowa athletics can pay for students' academic achievement 

Barta also announced a program that will pay athletes for academic achievement. A program called the Hawkeye Academic Advantage Plan will pay out a lump sum to every Iowa student-athlete that enrolls as a freshman and completes their degree. The amount will be paid to both scholarship athletes and walk-on athletes. 

The funds are a result of the the Supreme Court ruling in the NIL case: the National Association of Collegiate Athletics (NCAA) v. Alston. The court’s ruling allowed for schools to provide direct compensation to student-athletes “academic achievement” at $5,980 annually. 

"We are going to give you a significant amount of money when you leave here to get a start," Barta said. "(To) put a down payment on an apartment, maybe lease or buy a car, maybe buy a new suit for interviews or whatever it is. You're going to leave here with a nice sum of money to go off into the world.

"Do I believe that's going to keep somebody from transferring out? Probably not. But it sure is a reward if you decide to come and stay." 

NCAA indicates investigations into NIL accusations 

Iowa's treated the first year of NIL (particularly collectives) similarly to beer and wine sales integration in the Big Ten, not the first school to jump into the space and not the last. It appears that it's starting to gain momentum entering year two and Barta remained adamant that they won't deviate from what they believe is "the right way" to approach the new system, especially in recruiting. 

More:Iowa's recruiting momentum is surging. Let's discuss why with assistant coach Jay Niemann

"The NCAA has come out this summer and indicated that it is focusing on some of the more egregious accusations," Barta said. "I'll keep them at accusations right now, that it is not within the rules — it is against the rules to use name, image and likeness as a recruiting inducement. I wasn't born yesterday; I understand that it's going on. We're not going to do it at Iowa, and there are many, many schools that are going to do it the right way." 

Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at