If Iowa basketball can't afford Tony Perkins this program is in trouble

Tony Perkins is a solid player, but if Iowa can't meet the NIL demands of his caliber, there won't be much success in the program's future.
Iowa v Illinois
Iowa v Illinois / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

The ever-changing landscape of college sports is taking its toll on programs that lack the necessary resources to compete. We see it regularly in basketball too. A player has one good season at a lower-tier school and heads straight for the Transfer Portal.

Tony Perkins had a solid career for the Iowa Hawkeyes. He was a strong leader in the locker room and was relied upon to be the heartbeat of the team on the floor.

In four years, Perkins averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. His senior campaign was by far his best effort as he posted a 14, 4.4, and 4.6 stat line. Given his eligibility, his departure can be comfortably viewed more as a graduate transfer, though there is more to it than that.

Perkins entered the Transfer Portal shortly after Iowa's season ended in the second round of the NIT. He has since trimmed his list of potential destinations to six schools: Missouri, Indiana, Oregon, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Oklahoma.

Despite his suitors, Perkins is far from a superstar player. Even his NIL valuation for one final season of college basketball will tell you that.

Recent reports say that head coach Fran McCaffrey said at the university’s Presidential Committee on Athletics Thursday that Perkins value was too much for the Hawkeyes program to pay.

"[Perkins is] leaving here because he has a market value probably in the neighborhood of $500,000... We were not going to be able to pay him that, so he goes somewhere else,” McCaffery said.

While $500k may sound like a lot to you or me, in the world of Power 5 athletics, it's not that outrageous. In fact, most in the know will tell you it's a fairly average value for an average starting Power 5 guard in college basketball.

The problem is, if Iowa can't afford a basic payout for an average guard, things are going to turn sour in Iowa City on the basketball court very quickly.

A superstar like Caitlin Clark on the women's side is extremely rare. Clark's stardom allowed her to make deals with major brands, so Iowa's supporters weren't the ones having to pay her the millions she's worth.

For average players like Perkins, the program is more reliant on donors and local sponsorships to reach that pay range.

It's not particularly surprising that Iowa can't (or won't) pay that type of money for Perkins, but the longterm affects are going to be painful. Starting caliber point guards in the Transfer Portal seeing that there's a definite cap on what they can earn through standard means is a huge red flag.

Iowa is already in a place where recruiting elite talent out of high school isn't a given. If McCaffrey can't add talent through the Transfer Portal by being a prime destination for experienced players because of NIL limitations, the ship is going to sink beneath McCaffrey's feet.

Iowa wouldn't be the type of school that you'd think would be that lower tier program that players leave after showing they can play at a higher level. But situations such as this can quickly put them in that category.

Until more structure comes to college sports to regulate Transfer Portal and NIL practices in a balanced maner, Iowa may find itself scraping the bottom of the barrell of fringe Big Ten-level basketball talent. And by the time that arrives, it could be too late to climb back to a state of relevancy in an evolved college athletics landscape.

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