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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS — Standing Tuesday at a podium in a hotel event space with a view overlooking Kinnick Stadium, an actuary from Fort Myers, Fla., did something “not actuarial in any way, shape or form.”
“My actuarial press conferences don’t seem to be as well attended,” said Brad Heinrichs, the actuary and a former Hawkeye golfer.
Heinrichs unveiled the Swarm Collective — an organization established to raise money for Hawkeye athletes via name, image and likeness.
Athletes on Iowa’s football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams are eligible to take part in the Swarm Collective, but they are not required to participate.
Any athlete from those three teams who participates in the Iowa Swarm will receive the same monthly stipend. So Iowa’s starting quarterback will receive the same amount as the third-string tight end or the backup women’s basketball guard.
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz said Heinrichs’ vision “fits our program and our values.”
“I really embrace the collective concept of it,” Ferentz said Tuesday. “Everybody’s got a role, whether they’re the first guy or the 115th guy on the roster.”
To earn the stipend, athletes must participate in work that raises money for nonprofits. The collective is partnering with the United Way of Johnson and Washington counties.
"What I really love about the United Way is that they fully vet all of these charities,“ Heinrichs said. “I thought they would be a great starter because they’re feeding a lot of these other local charities.”
The nonprofit component is not exclusive to the Swarm. Collectives for athletes at Indiana and Notre Dame, among other schools, also have philanthropic goals.
The Swarm Collective is awaiting the IRS’ review and approval so donations will be tax-deductible, but Heinrichs expects it to happen soon.
A separate entity, Swarm Inc., will connect businesses with athletes although it will not be tax-deductible.
It also has a subscription model for fans. Membership costs vary from the “champions” level at $200 per year to the “captain’s club” level at $10,000 per year, according to the website. More expensive levels of membership offer fans more access to the Hawkeyes.
The collective will put together several events, including tailgates for home football games and a “members-only experience” in New York when Iowa men’s basketball plays at Madison Square Garden, according to its website.
The New York experience includes a spot on the team plane, courtside access for team warmups and other perks, Heinrichs said.
“I can tell you I would never have had that opportunity ever before,” Heinrichs said.
Heinrichs was hesitant to give a dollar amount that he expects to raise, saying he’ll have a “better idea in 30 days.” He personally contributed $100,000, and the collective has secured agreements for a “few hundred thousand more.”
This effort is separate from the Iowa City NIL Club, which Atlanta-based YOKE Gaming created in partnership with more than 100 Iowa football players.
As of Monday morning, the Iowa City NIL Club had sold 905 “access passes” after first making them available on Friday. At $200 per year, it resulted in just more than $180,000 in revenue.
The Swarm Collective operates independently from Iowa Athletics, as required by NCAA rules, although there are some connections between the two organizations.
The collective’s two paid employees — Scott Brickman and Jayne Oswald — previously worked in Iowa Athletics’ development department.
“It is incredibly helpful,” Heinrichs said of Brickman and Oswald’s experience working at Iowa. “Jane does the events, Scott does the raising money and I just stand up in front of you guys and look silly.”
Heinrichs, the CEO of the collective, is not giving himself a salary.
“I’m at the point in my career where I like to watch others become successful,” Heinrichs said. “That’s what fills my cup at this point.”
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