Iowa Pork Group Cuts Deal With College Football Players
Under a “name, image, and likeness” arrangement, four Iowa State football players are the star of an association’s clever new promotion.
On September 2, a college football fan headed to X, formerly Twitter, to post a photo of two Iowa State University players standing next to each other with the names Hamann and Bacon. The Iowa Pork Producers Association, tagged on the post, immediately smelled an opportunity.
“I texted our promotions person that evening and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do something with this,’” said IPPA Communications Director Kevin Hall. “She responded yes, in all-caps, with five exclamation points.”
By the end of the month, IPPA had crafted a “name, image, and likeness” (NIL) deal—an arrangement that allows college athletes to be paid for sponsorships—with the two players, defensive lineman Tommy Hamann and linebacker Caleb Bacon. After the staff scanned the Cyclones’ roster, it added two more players to the deal, defensive back Myles Purchase and tight end Tyler Moore. The four gathered for a photo and video shoot encouraging Iowans to “Purchase Moore Hamann Bacon.”
Through the NIL deal, each of the players received $1,000, and an additional $1,000 worth of pork per player was donated in their names to the food pantry of their choice. They were also compensated for a second shoot for promotions timed to the Cyclones’ homecoming game on Nov. 4.
NIL deals are a relatively recent phenomenon: In 2021, the NCAA suspended its prohibition on collegiate players receiving such compensation after years of debate over whether they should be allowed to receive financial benefit from profitable college sports departments. Hall said IPPA had a sponsorship agreement with an Iowa State player last year, which gave the association some experience with the process.
“We had to work with Cyclones Sports Properties to make sure they were good with it in terms of the use of the jerseys [in the promotions], and with the We Will Collective, Iowa State’s NIL group,” he said. “They really did a lot to help us arrange getting the players there and letting us know what would be a good payment amount for the players. They helped with a lot of the organizational stuff.”
It’s hard to say how much of an effect the promotion has had on pork consumption in the state, but appetite for the promotion is strong. Posters that IPPA printed for a recent Cyclones home game were snapped up quickly by pigskin fans.
“We’ve easily given away more than 8,000 posters of the 10,000 we’ve made so far,” Hall said. (At least one other pork industry group has taken the ball and run with it: Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council signed an NIL deal with a Penn State football player nicknamed “Pork Chop.”)
Though the promotion is all in good fun, Hall said IPPA is hopeful the NIL deal will give a boost to the association’s 4,000 members, who are working in a struggling industry.
“This has been one of the most difficult years for pig farmers in 25 years,” he said. “Economically there are just a lot of challenges right now. And this put a lot of smiles on our members’ faces.”