The continued growth and success of the Iowa State athletics department depends on a number of things. Money is obviously at the top of the list. With the new addition of millions of dollars annually coming into the A.D. starting after this next fiscal year, Iowa State has finally started to move up in the Division I world in terms of being able to spend a little on itself. Is Iowa State trying to become a big time athletics player?
The key word is probably trying.
For all the criticisms of Jamie Pollard that exist among Cyclone fans (and those around Iowa) - it is tough to fault the man for actually bringing a vision to Iowa State athletics. In conjunction with Iowa State president Gregory Geoffrey - a man who Iowa State will miss dearly - Pollard has laid out a series of improvements and steps to try and move Iowa State from what it was envisioned as in the early 90s to something close to relevance. At the same time, he has managed to maintain a bit of financial security as Iowa State prepares to become part of a very exclusive group of schools (think single digits) that have a self-sufficient athletics department that is independent of state funding.
Pollard has it essentially right in terms of how future investments will be made in athletics here at Iowa State. Football is king, men's basketball is second, and anything else is gravy. That's why the department has been moving at breakneck speed to improve facilities for the two revenue-generating programs. Didn't it seem like it was a VERY quick turnaround time between Board of Regents approval for the new scoreboard and actual construction? That's because there is an understanding that investment in football needs to take center stage. Don't be surprised if the new football only facility starts going up immediately after the same approval. Plans are already floating out there. They just need the goahead.
So, I'd like some feedback. Iowa State is coming into money. We'll be proud new owners of one of the 20 biggest college football scoreboards in the nation. There will be a new football-only facility going in by one of the nicer practice facilities in the nation. One can be damn sure that the south endzone will be enclosed once the money is there. How would fans like to see increased revenues spent? We'll be self-sufficient, so it's not like we're burning though state money. Keep putting it into football? Men's basketball? Wrestling? More focus on olympic sports, such as the new complex going in by the Towers?
We came all too close to athletics irrelevance last summer. It's important to be cognizant of this, and how it guides athletics decisions in the future.