CEDAR FALLS — Call it the basketball court of public opinion.
A University of Northern Iowa student’s roller-coaster ride after a contest at Wednesday’s UNI men’s basketball game against Illinois State ended Friday in his favor after upset fans vented their frustrations on social media.
UNI athletics and CB Seeds, sponsor of the basketball-throwing contest, announced they had teamed up to award contestant Dalton Hinsch $10,000 — the prize many fans thought he deserved days earlier. They also threw in a tickets and hotel package for him to see the Panthers compete at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in St. Louis.
Wednesday night, Hinsch appeared to be the second $10,000 winner this season of the CB Seeds Shot Promotion. The student made a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and half-court shot during a second-half media timeout — only to immediately find out he completed the shots three seconds too late.
Similar to other in-game promotional contests, rules dictate what must be done in order to win the grand prize. Panther Sports Properties arranges the promotions and sets up insurance coverage that is paid by advertising partners.
The rules for this competition say that participants have to retrieve their own rebounds and make one shot from each location within 24 seconds. When student Nils Anderson became UNI’s first winner of this promotion on Nov. 19 earlier this season, his shots were verified by a high-center camera before the insurance company issued a $10,000 check.
Before taking part in the competition, contestants must sign that they understand the rules.
A student athletics marketing intern serves as the emcee for the promotion, and is the only source there revealing how much time remains to complete the shots.
During the contest, Hinsch worked through his series of baskets — including having to retrieve a long rebound off a missed free throw. The emcee counted down the time. Caught up in the excitement, the emcee then added an impromptu, “Throw it!”
That’s when Hinsch fired from a few steps beyond the half-court line — and the miracle shot splashed through the net.
Cheers turned into boos when it was announced that Hinsch didn’t actually complete the contest in time.
“We do have a student emcee and he does a fantastic job,” UNI athletics director of sports information Jerek Wolcott said. “Not blaming him at all, everybody gets caught up in the moment. Everybody gets excited about it.”
But in response to backlash from a video of Hinsch’s performance posted on social media, UNI athletics director David Harris met with CB Seeds owner Chuck Becker and a representative from Panther Sports Properties to make sure the UNI student didn’t go home empty-handed.
A prize package was announced Thursday morning that included $2,000, a free trip to Arch Madness and UNI gear.
“We talked to (Hinsch) he understood clearly from the beginning that he didn’t hit it in time and that he needed to make it in 24 seconds,” Wolcott said. “He wasn’t expecting anything, but we looked at it and we worked with our partner CB Seeds. They stepped up and said there was some confusion, and we don’t want anybody to have a bad taste in their mouth.”
Hinsch had no ill will toward his school.
“Dalton said, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean to drag anybody through the mud on Twitter. That wasn’t my intent. It was more saying, look how close I got,’” Wolcott related. “He was more than excited about the $2,000 … He just feels bad from all the negative stuff because that’s not what he intended at all. He never misses a game. He’s always in the student section.”
Yet after negative feedback continued Thursday night and into Friday, a rep from Panther Sports Properties, Harris and Becker met again to up the ante.
UNI athletics and CB Seeds contributed toward the full $10,000.
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“Thank you to UNI and CB Seeds for the prize,” Hinsch said in a statement released by UNI. “I understood the rules prior to the contest, and am truly grateful for UNI and CB Seeds going above and beyond and awarding me the $10,000. I look forward to seeing the Panthers win it all in St Louis!”