116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The email came in shortly after the University of Iowa announced a $7 million gift that, in part, gave Sue Beckwith of Des Moines 'naming rights” to the women's basketball coaching position.
'Did Gary Barta and Bruce Harreld really agree to this?” the emailer asked.
'I guess I don't understand why anyone would turn down $7 million dollars ...”
This week came the news the football coaching position also has a name. For a $10 million 'gift,” Will and Renee Moon will be connected to the football program for years to come and the person leading the team will be named the 'Moon Family head coach.”
If you weren't aware, Barta - Iowa's athletics director - is officially the Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair.
So Kirk Ferentz, Lisa Bluder and Barta now have names in front of their titles. Don't be surprised when the men's basketball and wrestling coaching positions get endowed. It's coming, probably sooner than later.
It's part of that 'new normal” in college athletics, where anything and everything is for sale. Yes, it feels a bit odd, a little like the NASCAR driver changing hats while pictures are being taken after a win to please all his or her sponsors.
Not to be Mr. Obvious here, but athletics departments near and far are in need of money. Last year's COVID-induced shutdown took a significant toll on all programs, big and small.
Jamie Pollard at Iowa State and David Harris at UNI - not to mention smaller colleges across Eastern Iowa and the country - need donations to not only thrive, but to simply survive.
There's a reason many programs have cut sports, or are still considering that option.
As for the new 'titles,” it's pretty-much meaningless to the general public. We aren't going to use that title in stories quoting Ferentz, Bluder or Barta. My guess is nobody is every going to use that title, outside the universities communications office.
There are many reasons to question decisions already made - and those that will be made - by Barta and the Iowa's athletics department. This isn't one of them.
And the Hawkeyes aren't alone in finding unique revenue streams.
Michigan State recently signed a five-year deal with Detroit-base Rocket Mortgage.
'As part of a newly-announced five-year deal ... the Spartans basketball program will henceforth be referred to as ‘MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage at the Breslin Center,'” according to a story on CBSSports.com.
The Detroit New reported 'the partnership will also mean branding placement ... on TV, radio and in the university's athletic facilities for the men's and women's basketball teams as well as football and hockey teams.”
Terms of that deal were not released, but it comes about a month after another big donation to MSU athletics, this one from Mat Ishbia, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage Holdings Corp. - a Rocket rival. That was a $32 million contribution, 'the largest single cash commitment in MSU history from an individual,” according to Detroit News.
The bottom line is big businesses that call themselves athletics departments - like at Iowa and Iowa State and all their Big Ten and Big 12 brethren - aren't likely to turn down any reasonable support they can get, especially after last year's significant losses.
Things may be getting close to normal again, but there are coaches to pay and facilities to build. Some things never change.
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