2011 Insight Bowl: Mason says Insight Bowl savings not a priority


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Despite the recent increase in university debt and a likely increase in tuition next year, University of Iowa President Sally Mason said she isn't concerned with saving money on the Insight Bowl this year.

"It's not necessarily about saving; obviously, when we can save we're glad," she said. "But it's about representing the university well at the Insight Bowl."

Iowa athletics officials said the department always looks at ways to save money and spend efficiently. This year's $1.8 million payout is identical to last year's — and Iowa Assistant Athletics Director Richard Klatt said, so is the strategy.

"The plan is always to be as efficient with the resources as we possibly can," he said. "We'll do all that's necessary to provide the team the best chance of victory as possible."

Iowa sent 651 people to Tempe, Ariz., for the 2010 Insight Bowl, according to an open-records request The Daily Iowan obtained last year. That number includes 111 football players, 254 band members, and 31 cheerleaders and dancers. Mason said she anticipates the number of attendees to be similar, but most Iowa officials will only make it a two-day trip this year.

"I think we're going in and out even more quickly this year than we did last year," she said. "It's really a two-day trip."

She said head coach Kirk Ferentz and the football team will arrive in Arizona seven days before the game to prepare.

"They go there and they prepare; the coach likes to prepare them just as they prepare for any other game," Mason said. "So they have a weeklong set of activities they all participate in, in preparation for every game. [Ferentz] puts them through that same routine."

Last year's savings are proof of what the school can accomplish this year, she said.

"We'd like to obviously keep our costs as low as possible, and I think we showed we could do that last year," she said.

The Big Ten gave Iowa a $1.8 million budget for the Insight Bowl last year; officials spent $1.4 million.

Peer institutions hope to save money as well, but officials said it will be a challenge.

Illinois will head to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 31 to play UCLA. Kent Brown, the Illinois assistant athletics director for media relations, said saving any of the $750,000 payout from the Big Ten will be a challenge.

"It's going to be nearly impossible to save money on this trip," he said. "It's an expensive trip to the West Coast; however, the goal is not to spend more."

Iowa State will travel to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in the New York City to take on Rutgers on Dec. 30, and ISU Associate Director for Communications Steve Malchow said breaking even is a more realistic goal in their situation.

"It's fair to say if you are in a second-tier bowl, the money they give you to spend is more to break even than make money," Malchow said.

Even though Iowa's final budget won't be calculated until after the bowl game, athletics officials said they would like to see similar results because of the similar situation.

"We have a pretty good road map," Klatt said. "We were in Arizona a year ago, able to win the game, and do so efficiently with financial resources. We'd like to duplicate efforts this year."

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