IOWA CITY — A black-and-gold jersey that featured the “Trump” name and was handed to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during his rally on the University of Iowa campus Tuesday was “not an official Iowa football jersey,” officials said Wednesday.
Several UI football players and wrestlers — including quarterback CJ Beathard — joined Trump on stage at the start of his appearance in the Field House, tossing out hats and encouraging support. Hawkeye tight end Peter Pekar told the crowd of more than 1,000 to “Vote for Trump” before raising the “Trump” jersey and shouting, “Go Hawks!”
Trump, while introducing the athletes, said, “They endorse Trump.”
“They like Trump, I like them,” he said.
Some raised questions about whether that constituted an official endorsement and whether the jersey was licensed — potentially violating NCAA rules.
In a statement Wednesday morning, UI Athletic Director Gary Barta said he learned current and former UI athletes attended Trump’s rally, and they are “encouraged to participate in the political process as individuals.”
“However, like any endorsement by a student or faculty member, their participation should not be considered representative of the entire team or university,” Barta said. “The jersey presented to Mr. Trump was not an official Iowa football jersey. No candidate has asked for, or received, any official Iowa athletic equipment or apparel.”
NCAA guidelines prohibit athletes from participating in advertising and promotions that endorse “a political candidate or party” or “a viewpoint on controversial issues of public importance.”
Barta, in the statement, said the university is confident “no violations of NCAA rules and regulations have taken place.”
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The university also has been asked about Trump’s use of the Field House for the rally, and athletics spokesman Steve Roe said student groups must sponsor candidates on campus and pay for use of the facilities. In Trump’s case, Rose said, the UI College Republicans sponsored the event.
Trump’s rally was peppered with protesters, both inside and outside the event. Those inside blew whistles and shouted. Those outside chanted phrases like, “Dump Trump before he dumps what’s right.”
One person — Andrew Joseph Alemao, 28 — was arrested by UI police on suspicion of disorderly conduct after authorities saw him throw two tomatoes at Trump during his speech. Alemao immediately was taken into custody by U.S. Secret Service and booked into the Johnson County Jail.
His charge is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $625 or 30 days in jail.