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Did the UI overspend at the Orange Bowl?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | MAY 10, 2010 7:30 AM

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YES

After a year marked by budget slices, the University of Iowa is in desperate need of some cash. Nevertheless, expense reports from January’s Orange Bowl indicate the university — this time in the form of the athletics department — has yet to halt its capricious spending.

The exorbitant cost of the UI’s Orange Bowl party reached nearly $1.9 million, according to recently released documents. All in all, the reward for making one of college football’s most prestigious bowl games was $1.95 million. But after such a momentous accomplishment by the football team — reaching and winning the Orange Bowl — the university walked away with a measly $54,954. That number may seem hefty to us college students, but it’s a mere speck when compared with UI revenue. (The money will go to the athletics department.)

The institutional party at the Orange Bowl, which included school officials, accounted for $83,119 in expenses. Bringing top administrators to network and socialize is a well-contrived public-relations move, but let’s face the reality: If it’s time to cut costs — as UI officials consistently claim it is — then start cutting a few unnecessary athletics expenditures.

So could UI officials do in the future to bring back a few extra (thousand) dollars?

It’s not necessary to bring the entire cavalry to a bowl game. Let a few people pay for themselves, just as the thousands of traveling fans and students do every year. For example, footing the bill to bring then-UI Student Government President Michael Currie to Miami was in no way pivotal to the Hawkeyes’ success against Georgia Tech.

I understand the vital resource Hawkeye football provides and the millions of dollars associated with the program’s success. But the UI needs to spend less of its time, effort, and money on promoting athletics. With fewer and fewer TAs on campus and the impending closure of graduate programs, maybe sports can come second for once.

The UI’s Orange Bowl spending was partially frivolous and completely disheartening.

— by Michael Dale-Stein

NO

There’s no reason to assume that the money the University of Iowa spent on the Orange Bowl was an act of frivolity. While the price tag is rather shocking and the profit margin is quite underwhelming, these are definitely not the only things to take into account. The prestige that’s established by investing in a successful football program is literally priceless; it will continue to pay dividends for the life of the university.

Establishing our football team as a top-tier program pays by enticing more students to look to the UI. People want to root for a quality team and be associated with the Orange Bowl-champion Hawkeyes. This is the kind of thing major corporations spend millions, and even billions of dollars, on annually.

It’s like the university taking active steps to improve its ranking in various college reports. While the university may be spending money and probably seeing little immediate return, more eyes will glance across its name for every position it moves up the ranks.

In addition, the UI establishes brand recognition — something that any marketing major can tell you is not cheap or easy to obtain. The sum result of either of these acts is that the university’s name and image is on more people’s minds, which leads to increased applications. And with more students applying, the university can enroll more students, which means more tuition dollars.

And that’s the point. At the end of the day, the university is trying to draw in students. It’s a business, and students (or their parents) are its customers. Putting money into achieving a hugely public victory in the Orange Bowl isn’t just about winning a trophy; it’s an investment for the UI that will pay for itself in time.

So was spending $1.9 million to take a trip to the Orange Bowl worth it? Every single penny.

— by Tyler Hakes


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