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IOWA CITY — University of Iowa athletes could soon receive payments for good grades and benefit from a collective for name, image and likeness deals, athletics director Gary Barta signaled Thursday.
The academic reward payments, which became possible after a federal judge’s ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in NCAA v. Alston, allow athletics departments to pay athletes up to $5,980 for their academic performance.
“I would anticipate we'd be doing something probably starting next year,” Barta said after his department’s monthly Presidential Committee on Athletics meeting.
Specifics of how Iowa will approach the relatively new benefit are not clear yet.
“We're still working with our senior staff,” Barta said. “Budget time is coming up, so our new budgets will be prepared in time for July. So we have kind of between now and then to finalize our plans for that.”
ESPN reported less than one-fifth of FBS athletics departments have taken advantage of the benefit so far. Wisconsin is the only Big Ten school to offer the benefit, per the ESPN report.
The timing of the ruling coincided with when many departments, including Iowa’s, faced major deficit shortfalls because of the impact of COVID-19 precautions on sports.
The Hawkeyes had a $40-plus million deficit in the 2020-21 fiscal year. The exact number varies slightly between the reporting methods for the Board of Regents and the NCAA, but either way, it’s an uncharacteristically large shortfall.
“We're still working our way through that,” Barta said.
Conversations happening around collectives
Barta has talked with donors who intend to create an NIL collective for Hawkeye athletes. He said he can’t predict exactly how soon it’ll come together, but he assumes “fairly quickly.”
Collectives operate independently from an athletics department and help athletes earn NIL deals.
“I’m grateful that some people who are planning to create a collective are coming to us saying, ‘We want to do this, but we want to make sure we do it the right way,’” Barta said. “So we're having conversations about what is the right way.”
That task is harder, Barta said, because of the lack of NCAA direction on the topic, but Iowa is staying clear of any pay-for-play scenarios.
“It's murky waters these days across the country, but we're going to do it the right way,” Barta said.
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