University of Iowa president Sally Mason says “in retrospect” she probably would have made a different call on the university’s renewed promotional agreement with beer giant Anheuser-Busch. Mason taped an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program this morning and she was asked about the deal.
“If I had realized that it was going to raise the kinds of issues that it has, at this point I’m not sure that it’s worth the revenues that we’re getting to our athletic department, so, yeah, I probably would reconsider,” Mason said.
Iowa Press moderator Dean Borg followed up, asking: “Reconsider, but does that mean wouldn’t do it?”
Mason replied: “More than likely not even do it.”
The deal lets the beer company use Iowa’s Tigerhawk logo on promotional items like posters, t-shirts and beer cups. Mason said the original deal was struck “more than 20 years ago” and she merely continued the agreement.
“In this particular case…I made a mistake,” Mason said. “I did not assume that renewal of a contract that had been in place for this long and a contract that exists at Iowa State and the same contract at UNI, at Kansas, Missouri — most major universities, certainly, in the Midwest — I did not expect the kind of feedback that we’ve been getting, some of it positive but. obviously, not all of it positive.”
Some professors on the Iowa City campus have suggested the deal conflicts with the university’s effort to curtail binge drinking among students and, instead, enhances the university’s reputation as a “party school.” The agreement lets Anheuser-Busch use the familiar Tigerhawk logo on promotional items, but the phrase “Responsibility Matters” is also to be printed on the materials.
“We certainly didn’t mean to send a mixed message…What we’re trying to do is moderate the message,” Mason said. “We’ve been firm with our undergraduate students: ‘Safe. Responsible. Legal.’ — that’s been the message. That’s the message athletics delivers when it comes to alcohol use.”
This was a “business deal” according to Mason and she made the call that it yielded necessary revenue for the university’s athletic department.
“I did it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is…we have told our athletics department that, ‘You will be self-supporting.’ We’re not going to use tuition dollars, no taxpayer dollars, no appropriations dollars to support athletics at the University of Iowa,” Mason said, “and actually we haven’t used those kind of dollars to support athletics since I arrived.”
Mason has been the Iowa City school’s president for the past five years. She made her comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs on Iowa Public Television this evening at 7:30.