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As American colleges and universities start charting a new course through an athletics landscape allowing students to make money off their names, images and likenesses, Iowa’s public universities are seeking help tracking athlete activities and educating them of new opportunities, obligations and potential pitfalls.
Iowa State University last week issued a call for proposals from companies capable of providing a “full-service platform for managing student-athlete monetization of their name, image, and likeness.”
Any company ISU hires as a result will be tasked with helping student-athletes “develop their individual brand,” build a social media presence and capitalize on their opportunities while also educating them about contracts, negotiations, tax implications and NCAA compliance.
With proposals due back July 8, ISU “desires to have a system in place as soon as reasonably possible” and assumes a contract will be signed before Aug. 1, according to the call that also seeks help tracking and reporting new student-athlete deals.
On Friday, University of Iowa Athletics unveiled a new “comprehensive name, image and likeness program” it’s calling FLIGHT — meant to provide cross-departmental oversight of the specific educational programs for Hawkeye student-athletes.
“The program equips Iowa student-athletes with the tools necessary to strengthen their NIL potential,” according to UI Athletics.
The NCAA is rushing to craft interim policies suspending amateurism rules related to the use of a student-athlete’s name, image and likeness after the U.S. Supreme Court last week unanimously ruled against the athletic association’s limitations on athlete compensation for educational benefits.
Under rules being considered, student-athletes would be able to make money off such things as signing autographs and making endorsement deals — up until now not allowed under NCAA rules the organization has said were intended to keep collegiate sports amateur instead of professional.
The NCAA’s Division I Council voted Monday to recommend its Division I board of directors adopt the interim policy at a meeting Wednesday — the eve of the July 1 commencement of new laws in eight states allowing student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness.
Iowa is not among the 21 states that have passed laws to take effect either this year, next, or in 2023 or 2025. But the NCAA is expected to approve alternatives allowing schools in states without the laws to benefit from athlete name, image and likeness without violating association rules.
Division I, II, and III governance is expected Wednesday to approve the new policy — which also allows athletes to use “a professional services provider for NIL activities.”
ISU Athletics months ago formed a committee to look into the issues, according to Senior Associate Athletics Director Steve Malchow.
“At this point, we have not made any decisions on vendors,” he told The Gazette. “Many schools have already partnered with various firms. There are a number of companies entering this space. Having said that, the legislation in this area changes daily. Thus, we have spent our time getting positioned so that we can best serve our student-athletes when the dust settles, so to speak, on NIL.”
In launching its new FLIGHT program, UI Athletics partnered with INFLCR — which markets itself as a “content and compliance software platform for elite athletics, preparing staff and student-athletes for opportunities and guidelines.”
The department already had an agreement with INFLCR to help Hawkeye athletes access images from athletics department photographers.
The university on May 21 extended its arrangement with INFLCR through June 30, 2025 — paying the company a total of over $32,000 — to give all Hawkeye athletes tools to “help them excel in the NIL era.”
Those tools include education and training in branding, social media, entrepreneurship, networking and finance — plus access to “fair market and social strategy evaluations for each student-athletes’ personal social media profiles.”
“We’ve had a partnership with INFLCR for several years, and our student-athletes have successfully utilized its photo and video delivery system,” UI Athletic Director Gary Barta said in a statement. “We are thrilled to expand our relationship and give all of our student-athletes the opportunity to understand their NIL rights and receive training and resources to enhance their NIL potential.”
INFLCR programming also has capacity to track deals and ensure NCAA compliance, according to UI Athletics.
“Iowa Athletics is positioning itself to be one of the most forward-thinking programs in the nation, and FLIGHT will help prepare current student-athletes and future recruits for success at Iowa,” INFLCR Chief Executive Officer Jim Cavale said in a statement.
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