Top Earning NIL Hawkeyes?

Whether you like it or not, the Name, Image and Likeness era begins on Thursday.   It no longer matters that Iowa or other states have or do not have their own NIL legislation, because the NCAA has said they will not pursue college athletes relative to eligibility over monetizing their own names, images and likenesses.

So here we are…and I thought it would be a fun exercise to list out the Top Three Hawkeye college athletes who I think will earn the most money for the 2021-2022 school year from their own NIL.

1: Spencer Lee:  I think Lee stands to earn more than any other Iowa athlete for this year. He will be entering his final year at Iowa, he is a three-time NCAA champion and looking to become a rare four-time champ, he is a back to back Hodge winner and he is probably the face of college wrestling nationally.  I think he stands a great chance to sign a multi-year apparel deal, among other possible national sponsorship opportunities.  While wrestling does not have the broad appeal that football and basketball does, Lee is the king of the sport right now and he is preparing for a run at wrestling immortality.

2: Caitlin Clark:  While not THE face of women’s college basketball, Clark has emerged as a national name and face for the sport.  The amount of run she got back in March was incredible. Sue Bird called her the most exciting player in college basketball, Kevin Durant tweeted that she belonged in the WNBA right now, she received similar glowing praise from Dan Patrick, Jay Bilas and Megan Rapinoe.  Clark is also heading into her sophomore year.  She stands to be in line for some national endorsement dollars, whatever that is going to look like, in addition to statewide endorsement dollars.   By the time she is done with her Iowa career, which should be three more seasons at a minimum unless the WNBA (unless the WNBA changes their current rules for draft eligibility away from being at least 22 years of age and be at least four years removed from high school) she will likely set the bar as the highest NIL earning Hawkeye.  Yes, I wrote that. More than any football player or basketball player.  Had Luka Garza had this opportunity from his freshman year, he would be the record holder, but he didn’t.  It will be Clark.

NOTE: I think that both Lee and Clark could earn six-figures for the coming year relative to their NIL.

3. Tyler Goodson: Football is going to be interesting and it will be a podcast topic unto itself.  I think that in the future, high-rated prospects are going to have endorsement deals lined up for them before they ever get to campus as part of a ‘recruiting pitch’.  I know this will make some of you queasy, but it’s just going to be the reality.  I also think the transfer portal will be an easy and quick avenue to riches for others…but again, that is a topic for another day.   I think the starting quarterback will always be a Top Five earner on an annual basis, but given that we are starting from scratch here on the NIL, I think Tyler Goodson is the sure-fire star who will have more touches than any other skill position player aside from the QB, who touches the ball on nearly every snap.  Goodson should have a shot at $50K+ this year.  Understand that my revenue projections are nothing more than wild guesses because we are in new territory here, but Goodson is potentially a 1st Team All Big Ten Running back and possible early entrant into next year’s NFL draft.  So he is on the list:

Also considered:

Spencer Petras: If Petras was the no-doubt-about-it year long starter at quarterback, I might have put him at #3.   Say if NIL had been installed for CJ Beathard’s senior season, going into it and coming off the Rose Bowl, CJB’s situation would have had me strongly considering him at #1.   But Petras is not in such a position, as his grasp on the starter’s role is not entirely solid.  Still, he is likely the game one starting quarterback of a Big Ten football team.

Keegan Murray: Murray, like everyone else, played in Luka Garza’s shadow last year.  But he showed a great deal of promise and his ceiling seems very exciting.  Still, I don’t know that he is going to approach the top three this year.  If he has a huge season and is back for his junior year, he could push to #2 on this list for next year after Spencer Lee moves on (if he moves on, as he has that extra COVID year).

Jordan Bohannon: I love JBo and am so glad he is back for his super senior season.  However I wonder if there is not some Bohannon NIL fatigue?  I have no idea and I hope that is not the case.  I hope that Bohannon, who will forever be linked as one of the leading NIL activists and a pioneer in this regard, is able to pile some fat stacks of cash…I just don’t know that it will be enough to be in the Top Three.

Tyler Linderbaum: Iowa’s fanbase appreciates offensive linemen as much or more than any other.  Still, I am not sure about the market for OL’s…even one who might be the best OL in the sport for next year. I am guessing Tyler’s sponsorship opportunities will be mostly local, which is still great and I think he could generate north of $25K this coming year at a minimum.

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