Monday, November 28, 2005

Competition on and off the court

The Thanksgiving Day weekend this year included a fraternity brother's wedding so my congratulations to Pete and Mary. Due to the family gatherings, travel time, watching Iowa State University football and basketball games, and the wedding itself I missed four days of blog postings so I am catching up on several themes this week.

I have to admit that I am dealing with some mild depression after seeing my beloved Iowa State Cyclones - - football team lose to the Kansas Jayhawks on the afternoon of November 26th thus denying Iowa State a chance to play for the Big 12 conference championship against the University of Texas (currently ranked #2 in the country so a very difficult opponent). If the football loss wasn't enough the men's basketball team (ranked #23 in the country at the time) LOST to Iona so clearly a greater degree of mental discipline is needed since the Cyclones simply should not (can't in fact) lose to such teams if we want to play at the top levels in the country.

Prior to these two games I read a Des Moines Register article about Iowa State's new Athletic Director, Jamie Pollard, who made several interesting quotes that I both agree with and am very concerned with:


"He is not a cheerleader president or the kind of president who wants to be in the locker room after a win and is nowhere to be seen after a loss."


Personally I want a university president who IS a cheerleader. At the NCAA Division I level athletics are a huge aspect of university life and fundraising capacity. Additionally the players are STUDENT-athletes thus they deserve the visible presence of the university president. As a life member of the alumni association and donor to the National Cyclone Club I am concerned by the message I hear in Mr. Pollard's quote.


"We are just catching up to where most of the other schools have been for 10 years."


Damn, if ISU won't devote the resources to the athletic programs required by benchmarking ourselves against the peers in the Big 12 Conference perhaps we should consider moving to another conference? I am not calling on the state government to provide additional funding here but I do want to see a greater emphasis on securing alumni, corporate, and other private sector funding for ISU Athletics.

This concern is made perfectly clear via the athletic department budgets for the members of the Big 12 Conference reported in the November 24, 2005 Des Moines Register which include:

Texas $74.4 million
Oklahoma $62.9 million
Texas A&M 57.4
Nebraska 55.8
Missouri 46.4
Texas Tech 45.6
Kansas 39.9
Colorado 36.6
Oklahoma State 35.9
Kansas State 33.5
Baylor 31.1
Iowa State 28.0

Even if ISU was able to DOUBLE its athletics spending it would only rank #4 in the Big 12 Conference. As a benchmarking exercise let me cite the University of New Mexico's athletic budget stands at $22 million just $6 million short of ISU and New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the USA -- I love every visit to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames but it's 30 year anniversary this year is noticeable via the very out of date signage and the very limited food menu. I would encourage Mr. Pollard to research how the Georgia Dome in Atlanta transformed itself to generate massive amounts of new revenues -

Ideally alums will step forward with their checks, credit cards, and any in kind contributions they can make to ISU athletics. For instance, perhaps the Greek system - - can work with the university to pledge more athletes to the fraternity and sorority houses especially since this PRIVATE living environment is oftentimes less expensive than the university's residence halls.

Best wishes to the student-athletes on their seasons,


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