Iowa Senator, Former Cyclones WR, Wonders How NIL Plays Out: ‘We Can’t Compete’ With Booster Money

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver says the debate over whether college athletes should be able to hire agents and receive payment for the use of their name, image and likeness is an issue lawmakers may examine this summer and fall, RadioIowa.com reports.

“I think if you ask the average person out there: ‘Should athletes be compensated for the use of their likeness?’ I think most people would say they should,” Whitver said, per RadioIowa.com. “The question is: Who should be doing that? Should we be writing a law? Should the NCAA be doing it? Should the federal government do it? How do you do it? When do you do it?”

Whitver expects a Supreme Court ruling this summer to help answer several of those questions.

“This really isn’t a legislative issue,” he said. “It shouldn’t be, but because of the failure to act of the NCAA and the federal government, it’s become a legislative issue. My preference would be the Supreme Court comes out, they kind of give their ruling, the NCAA or the federal government say: ‘OK, this is what we’ve got to do,’ and they do it.”

RadioIowa.com reports that a landmark 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively ended a ban on sports betting, prompting Iowa and many other states to legalize sports wagering.

The Senate Majority Leader — a former walk-on who became a starting wide receiver for the Iowa State Cyclones about 20 years ago — says a Supreme Court ruling on whether college athletes can have greater control and be compensated for the use of the names and images could do the same.

The article states that Whitver was in a version of of the “NCAA Football” video games from Electronic Arts, but it was just his likeness. His name wasn’t used and he wasn’t paid because of NCAA rules.

“Hopefully they can find a solution that just evens the playing field and makes it fair for the athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness,” Whitver said.

Whatever solution they find could affect recruiting if it isn’t implemented nationwide with certain boundaries.

“Say an athlete in Florida takes a bunch of money from a booster or from some corporation or someone giving endorsement money. What’s the NCAA going to do? Is he going to eligible or ineligible? And so until we know that, I don’t that it’s affecting recruiting yet, but at some point it will,” Whitever said. “I think we also want to be careful of getting into a situation where it’s really athletes going to the highest bidder of boosters that can give the most money. Kids in high school that have never proven themselves at a college level getting the most money from boosters out there because Iowa and Iowa State specifically, we can’t compete with Texas, Ohio State, Penn State for booster money. We just can’t.”

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. First, I would say the players already do get a nice % of that money. Scholarships are worth a lot more than many people realize. For the vast majority of the athletes, that’s actually more than they could get in any other way.
    Second, just doing the math on the NCAA’s earnings, I don’t think it will make much of an impact. Supposedly, the NCAA typically already sends back about $800 million of their $1 billion+ (in non-pandemic years) to member schools. Even if you assume half of that could be new payments (not scholarships or anything else it’s already being used for) directly to the students and not impact other uses by those schools, that amounts to about $2300 per year to each of the 176k division 1 athletes. Sure, you could try sending all of that just to revenue-generating sports… but I suspect Title IX compliance folks would prevent it.
    This is a tricky issue overall, especially if athletic departments tell the truth in how many of them actually generate profits. For 2019, it was reported that “In total, then, only 25 of the approximately 1,100 schools across 102 conferences in the NCAA made money on college sports last year.” I’m pretty sure the $800 million doled out from the NCAA has already been factored into those financials, too. So, it’s effectively gone.
    Without getting deeper into it, at the very least, it’s clear the money isn’t likely coming from the revenue already being generated.

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