The mixing of athletics and academics has taken another twist this year at Iowa State University — one that has some I.S.U. professors staying away from football games. Iowa State for the first time required faculty and staff to make a donation to the athletic department in order to purchase season football tickets in the prime seating areas.
Statistics professor Bob Stephenson decided not to buy tickets because of the policy, and isn’t in the stands for the first time in almost three decades. Stephenson says they started sitting in the seats in the upper deck on the east side of the stadium near the 35-yard-line for some 27 years ago. He says they’ve had those tickets for all but one year when he was on a sabbatical leave The general public has been required to make donations up to $5,000 to renew season tickets for prime seats.
The faculty and staff donations range from $100 to $1,000. Stephenson says the break on donations makes up for the extra accommodations he makes for student athletes, and taking away the privilege illustrates the ever widening gulf between athletics and academics on campus. I.S.U. associate athletic director, Frank Nogel, disagrees, saying the donation is fair.
Nogel says the faculty and staff are sitting in some of the best seats in the building and the people all around them are donating. Nogel says donations from faculty and staff for basketball season tickets have been required all along, so requiring a donation in football shouldn’t be a surprise. Nogel says the faculty and staff at all other Big 12 schools make the same donations as the general public. He says the money goes toward athletic scholarships and other students needs, which helps the Cyclones compete in the conference.
Faculty and staff negotiated a different deal at the University of Iowa when the school sought donations to renovate the stadium. Iowa professor emeritus, Jude West, led a focus group to get faculty input, and says mandatory donations would not have gone over well.
West says the faculty members and staff would have been "quite upset with that type of breakdown." West says he was on the faculty for 45 years and was a loyal fan and says that should be one of the reasons he would not have to donate. The University of Iowa grandfathered in current faculty and staff, but required new staff members to pay half the amount of the general public. All other schools in the Big Ten require staff donations to match public donations.
I.S.U.’s Stephenson admits the cost of the donation would not amount to that much per game and he could buy tickets that wouldn’t require a donation. Still, Stephenson says he and two or three other professors decided on principle to not renew their tickets. Stephenson wonders if the general public is now occupying seats that used to be held by staff that were faithful in good and bad seasons.
Stephenson says: "The faculty members would year by year buy the tickets regardless of how the team was doing. I don’t think that the general public is as loyal in that way, I may be wrong." Iowa State says 85% of season ticket holders, including faculty and staff, renewed this season.