By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The reaction to news that the Iowa Athletic Department is not helping with the Iowa Swarm Collective’s efforts to contact potential donors has been very one sided as most fans are very upset.
There are some that support Iowa’s position of not helping unless the Iowa Swarm Collective agrees to distribute its money from name, image and likeness equally throughout the athletic program as a way to meet Title IX requirements.
But the vast majority of fans that have responded are strongly opposed to Iowa’s approach to NIL, and are upset that the UI Athletic Department wants to enforce something that isn’t required by law, and that isn’t being enforced at other schools.
Of the hundreds of e-mails and responses on social media to the Hawk Fanatic article, more than 90 percent are opposed to Iowa’s approach to NIL in this case.
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta is at the center of fans’ rage, but it’s hard to know where exactly the pursuit of the moral high grand originated.
It’s noble what Iowa apparently wants to do in regard to meeting Title IX requirements.
But unless the other Big Ten schools would agree to the same approach, which none likely would, it puts Iowa at a huge competitive disadvantage.
NIL is here to stay, and the University of Iowa has to figure out in a hurry what it hopes to accomplish and how it wants to be affliated with the Iowa Swarm Collective.
Because what’s happening right now certainly isn’t working.
Other schools appear to be making NIL a priority, whereas Iowa wants to keep some distance from it, or, at least, that’s how it appears.
Brad Heinrichs, CEO of the Iowa Swarm Collective, is frustrated with the lack of support from the Iowa Athletic Department, and he has a right to be.
Heinrichs has been denied every time he’s asked the UI Athletic Department for help in reaching out to season ticket holders for football and men’s and women’s basketball, which are the three sports that the Iowa Swarm Collective supports financially.
“SWARM refuses to raise money to spread payments equally across all sports to comply with Title IX,” Heinrichs said Saturday in a text message exchange. “We are not subject to Title IX. We are not affiliated with the university.
“With that said, the University does not have to support us in any way. They cannot provide us financial assistance. But we have asked them to help in other ways.”
Could UI officials be paranoid after having to pay some costly settlements to discrimination suits in recent years?
But again, there is no law that requires an NIL collective to meet Title IX requirements because an NIL collective is not directly affiliated with the school it supports.
Donors also should have the right to decide where their money gets distributed.
Take that right away and you risk losing donors.
Iowa just seems to be standing in its own way in this case.
And while there is something to be said for taking the moral high ground, the potential damage it could cause in this case far outweighs the benefits.
It already is hard enough for Iowa to recruit in football and men’s and women’s basketball being from a low population state, and it’s equally as hard to compete in NIL against the deep pockets from schools such as Ohio State and Michigan.
NIL will help to shape football rosters from this point on, and every school should have to meet the same requirements in the spirit of fair play.
Gary Barta and Brad Heinrichs should sit down and figure a way to make this work.
Barta has to realize the competitive disadvantage that Iowa now faces in trying to raise NIL money. And if he doesn’t, then shame on him because it just seems so obvious in this case.
— Pat Harty (@PatHarty) December 24, 2022