Highlights from our Interview with Jordan Bohannon

On how he became involved with college athlete advocacy for name, image and likeness:

“Actually, it’s funny. I look at my pathway to advocacy for college athletes and it goes back in middle school, late middle school, around in seventh, eighth grade, I wrote a research paper regarding not paying athletes and why I believed college athletes should not be compensated in college. So looking at that back to middle school, to all the way to high school or or to college where I’m at and looking at the pathway I’ve taken in my mindset towards this topic is kind of extraordinary to look at because I was really heavy against it. And then I learned a lot more. As soon as I got into the business of the NCAA, I realized how truly corrupt it is.  When you’re actually in the business, you see a lot of the stuff from behind the scenes. This is about people being paid throughout high school and then going to the college level. You hear all these shady conversations that are going on with these players. You hear about the NCAA, Mark Emmert. And honestly, after the rug incident after my junior year (NCAA tournament when Jordan took a rug from a locker room) which was really pure sarcasm, it really took off, my advocacy for name, image or likeness and to work with the NCAA.”

About what changed his mind from where he was on this topic back in middle school to now, where Jordan is such an active and prominent national voice and advocate for name, image and likeness:

“At that point in my life, I didn’t really realize what the other parts of the business were like. I was talking about the NCAA, but it really wasn’t until my brother Zach made the Final Four and he started talking more and more about the inconsistencies with this organization that they deemed themselves as nonprofit. And obviously that’s not the case with President Mark Emmert making almost three million dollars now. So I think when he was going through that Final Four and he was bringing a water bottle that wasn’t endorsed by the NCAA into practice and an NCAA official had to make him rip off the label and throw away the water bottle. So that was kind of the first thing. I was like, wait a minute, this doesn’t really add up. And then after that, I tried to learnas much as I could. And I think that’s that’s the most important thing I’ve taken away from all this, because my freshman and sophomore year, I didn’t really speak out much about this issue. I wasn’t really knowledgeable of it. It wasn’t until my junior and senior years where I started to become more knowledgable. I was confident enough to have a dialogue with people that have opposing opinions. And I think that’s been the main thing.”

On the objection some have to granting college players the ability to profit from their name, image and likeness and how that might bring some corrupt elements into the mix, namely bad agents:

“Yeah, there’s several instances that I have experienced and I’m not going to get into specifics.  I do want to talk about at some point, whether that’s me decide to write a book about it or on my podcast. But there was one athlete that came through in my five years at Iowa and we heard about how shady this family was and they came through our campus. And then he realized that he committed elsewhere and found out how much he was paid and how he was paid. So it happens. People talk about it all the time. It does happen. I’m 100 percent saying that it happens and it happens on a daily basis. It’s a it’s a daily thing with the college level.”

On how Jordan views the battle for name, image and likeness as a civil rights issue:

“It’s un-American for what they’re doing on with college athletes across the country. The fact that we’re being limited on our name and likeness and people want to talk about how it’s a big issue. This is a civil rights issue. The majority of college athletes and the college athlete population in the NCAA are majority African-American. I mean, look at the statistics on it. It’s a fact. And a lot of these guys that are coming from families are under the poverty line. Not only is this going to help for a lot of these families that have their kids, they live out their dream of playing the game they love, the game that they love, but they can help their local communities as well. This this will not only affect just the players. They can help immensely, the communities or the restaurants, private businesses around the campuses, across the country. So I truly believe this is affecting college athletes positively. There’s so many positive that can come out of this. This is a civil rights issue. This is a bigger issue than people are giving it credit for.”

On whether or not his NIL advocacy was a distraction to this year’s basketball team:

“I mean,  there’s a kind of an aura about me where I’m very outspoken and people have figured that out, that I’m one of the more polarizing athletes that has been coming through Iowa. So there’s a couple of my teammates that want to be advocates for things like this. And I’ve talked to them privately about it. And some of them were on the meetings when we met with the Iowa senators, there’s a good amount of teammates on that call with me. So I think at the end of the day, there there’s other important issues involving basketball, not just basketball itself. And I felt like I kind of opened the eyes of some of the athletes on my team this year. Hopefully they’ll be speaking out about it after they’re done, but if they don’t it’s no big deal. But I feel like when we were on the court that it was all basketball. And it’s hard for people that aren’t athletes that have never experienced this level that we’re playing at to understand these things. We’ve always had this mindset, you know, especially my freshman class that I came in with. We were kind of free spirited guys that kind of shifted this program. I would like to say we had several guys who liked to be themselves off the court with myself, Cordel, Tyler Cook, just go down that line. And all those guys were huge guys that kind of shifted the program. I think that’s essentially what made us so much fun to play with or fun to watch. And I don’t think I was a distraction. Some teammates might say differently, but I think they thought what I was doing was very admirable, something that’s bigger than myself, something that’s bigger than the whole team and something that’s bigger than basketball, really. And at the end of the day, if it made us lose a couple of games and get (NIL rights) accomplished, I would take that. I would take that in a heartbeat because I think this is such a huge issue that would change a lot of college athletes lives to come.”

On whether Fran McCaffery is a player’s coach, and different than what the fans and media see from the outside:

“He definitely should be labeled as player’s coach. I mean, he was recently at a funeral (for Tate Schaefer) and I was there with him and it just shows you how invested he is, not only in the community, but in these college athletes. They knew how much (Tate) meant to the basketball program and Coach Fran was there to be with their family in that community. So there’s countless, countless stories I could tell you…my personal battle battles with myself. And I’ve gone through tough times through the years, fighting through injuries and Fran just being there and saying, just keep being yourself, keep playing with that swagger. And I always loved when he said that to keep playing with that swagger because I knew that, you know, I’m a very confident person on the court. So whenever he said that, I kind of got to a different level, but he just knew what to say to the people on the team. And I think that’s what makes him a great leader, because he understands that concept and instilled that in every single player that’s been through this program through the years.”

About being forced to live in a bubble during COVID to keep the team healthy:

Yeah, it was it was very, very hard. I know a lot of people on my team would say the same thing about not being around family, especially for myself. My family lives 35 minutes away. I’m used to going home on weekends and being around them. So it was hard not seeing them after games. It (the lockdown) really started back in Halloween. And really it was the first time we told everyone on the team, like, we need to settle down. No one’s going out of the bars. No one’s going out to see their friends and family after games. It’s just going to have to be how it’s going to be for the next six months. And I can honestly say the fact that we bought into that shows how much we cared about winning this year. Now, people might say differently about some games, you guys not being ready, but the fact that we are able to sacrifice that much shows how much we cared about this season and wanting it to run smoothly. There’s a lot of instances where we when we win a big game, we want to go out with our friends. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t live the college life.  And we were basically working a job and providing entertainment for so many fans. And we were happy to do that, grateful that we were even given the chance to play this year. And the fact that we didn’t go on any pauses throughout the entire year shows how dedicated we were. And it’s very, very tough. I went through a couple times, at the beginning of the year where I was like, I don’t know if I can do that. It’s just been doing the same thing every single day, getting up, have breakfast, go to practice, going back to my apartment. It was like that every single day and it took a lot of willpower to get through it.  Another point of it just being with the teammates, because we all shared the same common denominator of getting through this tough time and we’re all so close as a team.

What were some of his favorite moments while playing?

My freshman year at Wisconsin, but not just my aspect of playing and hitting that shot. It was a fact of being there in warm ups and seeing Andy North, who is a big time Wisconsin fan, go over to see my family members behind the bench, watching all the assistant coaches greet my family members, watching so many of these people that I met through my years and I’m playing in the Iowa jersey. It just it felt really bizarre.  I even got emotional before the game. I was like, this is pretty, pretty damn cool. I’m here at this point right now. Then the Cincinnati game, my junior year, was very, very special. We made the comeback, but I don’t think anything could top the Ohio State game playing at Ohio State (this year). And we were struggling at that point of the year this year. A lot of people wrote us off and we had fallen out of the Top 10 and we won that game. And I think we finished up winning the last eight of the last 10 games of the season to really turn things around. And the fact that we won that game kind of showed we’re here to stay. And I think that’s as much emotion as there has been in the locker room after games because we know how much we went through this year.

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