Blum: Why I’m joining the We Will Collective

Outside of my family, nothing has had a bigger impact on my life than Iowa State and in particular Cyclone Athletics. The amount of time invested, the friends met, the ups and the downs and the life experiences gained from being a Cyclone are incalculable. It is with that in mind, that I’m ecstatic to announce that as of August 1st, I will be moving to a full-time position as the Executive Director of the We Will Collective and President of the newly formed Cardinal and Gold Student Athlete LLC.

Like many of you, when I first contemplated this new era of Name, Image, and Likeness in college athletics and the monstrous super conferences I was skeptical and candidly, discouraged. How is this good for the health and stability of the college sports that have become such a big part of our lives? And, relatedly, how in the world can Iowa State compete in a world where financial resources are a determining factor of success?  What’s the point of trying anymore?

Simply, Iowa State Athletics means too much and we’ve all invested too much time and love to let it slip down the hierarchy of importance. I want to be a small part of the solution to keep Iowa State relevant in this new world.

We all got a wake-up call when Tyrese Hunter opted to enter the transfer portal and become a de-facto free agent weeks after being the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Hunter was my four-year-old’s first favorite Cyclone player.  After he hit the clutch shots to beat LSU in the NCAA Tournament, my little guy spent a good portion of the next day on the Little Tikes hoop trying to be like Tyrese. It was unsettling when Hunter pursued other opportunities.

I remember my first favorite Cyclone players, re-creating the punt returns of James “The Eel” McMillion on the then Cyclone Stadium hillsides when you could have full-on tackle football games with room to spare. One of my fondest memories growing up was as an eight-year-old visiting a Cyclone Basketball practice days before the 1993 NCAA Tournament. I had a team photo plastered on a piece of cardboard and went around to all the Cyclones seeking autographs. Justus Thigpen and Howard Eaton were working on the bench press, Julius Michalik was getting up some extra set-shots and we caught up with Fred Hoiberg right before he was headed to class. Those guys don’t remember signing that poster, but it made me a Cyclone for life. I still have a photo of my brothers and me with Troy and Darren Davis in my home office.

So what does that have to do with the We Will Collective and Cardinal and Gold Student Athlete LLC? Part of what makes Cyclone Nation so special is the connection between Cyclone athletes and the community. These players come from all over the nation and world and decide to be a Cyclone; choose to be one of us. They are our highest-profile “celebrities” and become idols and heroes for our youngest fans. Think of the time you and your family invested in the likes of Georges Niang, Naz Mitrou-Long, Monte Morris, Allen Lazard, Brock Purdy, Charlie Kolar, Breece Hall and on and on. All players that came to Ames from all corners of the world, spent several great years in Ames and are now Cyclone legends forever. They picked us, stayed with us when each had an opportunity to move on and in doing so gave us life-long memories.

In this new world of College Athletics, these NIL organizations can put power back into those who invest the most, the fans. We don’t have to let success be entirely dictated by the whims and metrics of a major media company or the opinions of Stewart Mandel. Because ultimately, players determine success, and the We Will Collective and Cardinal and Gold Student Athlete LLC can have a tremendous impact in keeping those Cyclones who choose Iowa State.

But it’s not just the performance on the playing surface that makes the connection. As a 501(c)(3) the We Will Collective believes NIL should be used to grow the character of athletes and to benefit communities as well. In its early stages, the We Will Collective has partnered with Youth and Shelter Services in Central Iowa, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association. This is only the beginning. By ingraining Cyclones in the community, it only deepens the bonds and improves the meaningful outcomes for all. And to make it clear, unlike most existing collectives, I will not take any funding from gifts made to the We Will Collective; my position will be funded through the Cardinal and Gold Student Athlete LLC, which will function as a connector between Cyclone student-athletes and companies seeking to invest in growing their visibility.

Iowa State Athletics is in a tremendous position thanks to the leadership of Jamie Pollard and his administration, a rock-solid stable of coaches and first-class culture. But what will always separate Iowa State, is and will continue to be, our fan base, the Cyclone Nation. The power is in the numbers, in the collective. While Iowa State may not have a T. Boone Pickens or a Phil Knight, we do have 60,000 plus at Jack Trice every Saturday, the Magic of Hilton and the hundreds of thousands more watching around the country. We’ve come too far and grown too much to let Iowa State fall behind because some outside entity says we aren’t a big enough brand.

I look forward to sharing more information in the days and weeks ahead. If you are interested in learning more and investing today, please visit, shoot me a message at [email protected] or on Twitter at @brentblum. I can’t wait to visit with passionate Cyclones and companies across Iowa and the nation to see what we can collectively do to keep Cyclone Nation thriving. 

Go Cyclones!


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