AIB gift makes future foggy for athletes


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Jessica Madison moved across the country to play softball for the AIB Eagles, but now her future is murky because of decisions made in Des Moines and halfway across the state.

The AIB College of Business sophomore has especially been affected by the recent gift of AIB — a private institution in Des Moines — to the University of Iowa.

“I was heartbroken,” Madison said. “I felt like everything I and all the other athletes had worked for the last two years wasn’t being respected.”

AIB is going to shutter in June 2016, and all athletics programs will end in in May. Athletics scholarships will be honored through 2016.

The UI has proposed to convert AIB into a “regents regional center” that it would own and operate and rent out space to other institutions. The state Board of Regents still needs to approve the move.

“I knew I wanted to play softball in college,” Madison said. “It was a dream I’ve had since I was young. I knew I would get the most joy of continuing my education if I could play.”

Madison began playing the sport at 8. Since then, she has earned various accolades.

In high school, Madison was a four-year varsity letter-winner, a first-team All-League in 2011, second-team All-League in 2012, and an All-League honorable mention in 2013.

Kim Jones, the AIB head softball coach, learned of Madison’s accomplishments and recruited her to play for the school in the summer of 2013.

“Coach Jones contacted me and persuaded me to make a giant leap across the country to move here,” Madison said. “Jones flew out and met up with me and honestly sold the school and the program to me.”

She had no doubt moving across the country was the right decision. 

“The teachers here truly care about us and they do a great job,” she said. “I get the most out of my money out here.”

After the announcement of the gift of AIB to the UI, she was devastated.

Madison attends school on a scholarship, but she said she couldn’t disclose the specific amount of scholarship.

Her mother, Shannon Madison, said she was “very distraught and upset that she didn’t know the news sooner.”

“Her dream has always been to get an education, but she’s been wanting to play softball for some time now,” Shannon Madison said.

Despite the distance, her mother was happy to send her daughter to Des Moines.

When Jessica Madison told her family and friends she would be given the opportunity to play the sport she loves in college, they were ecstatic.

“When she told me, I was super excited,” boyfriend Cameron Cogdill said. “I was really happy that she was going to be able to do what she loves to do.”

Cogdill said he hopes Madison will be able to get back on the field for another team soon.

“I hope she finds another good college that will accept her — a college that will let her play for another two years,” Cogdill said. “That’s all she wants to do.”

After hearing about the gift, Madison changed from a bachelor’s program to an associate’s degree, and she hopes another school will pick her up.

“It’s tough because it’s so late in the year, and a lot of teams already have their teams planned out,” she said.

Jones said, despite the closing of the program, Madison’s future looks bright.

“She is an outstanding young woman; I feel like she has something to offer and has an amazing future ahead of her,” Jones said.

Originally, UI President Sally Mason proposed to merge AIB with the UI and turn it into a UI Des Moines campus.

All AIB students were to become members of the UI automatically, but now they will have to meet transfer requirements.

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