The best pitcher in Iowa history?

May 14, 2009
The Iowa women's softball team leaves for Atlanta and the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Eastern Iowa Airport via Twitter)

The Iowa women's softball team leaves for Atlanta and the NCAA tournament. (Photo by Eastern Iowa Airport via Twitter)

Iowa pitcher Brittany Weil has put together perhaps the greatest pitching career in Iowa softball history.

She’s tied all-time in wins (99), complete games (109) and games pitched (181). She is the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts (1,032), no-hitters (five) and innings pitched (996). She holds the school record for strikeouts in a season (328) and has earned at least a share of team MVP honors four consecutive seasons.

This year, she was a first-team all-Big Ten player, leading the Big Ten in opposing batting average (.146) and ranked second in both ERA (1.29) and strikeouts (136) in conference games only.

As for her pitching philosophy, Weil said, “I think about placement before each game and where I need to beat teams. So once I’m throwing, I’m just focused on hitting my spots. For the most part, even if my ball’s not moving that day, my dropball’s not really dropping, I can hit my spot.”

Weil and her Iowa teammates (42-14) play Auburn (29-27) at 4 p.m. Friday at Atlanta. Other teams at the regional include host school Georgia Tech (42-13) and Boston University (41-16).


Ferentz contract not finalized, ‘no decision’ on son’s status

May 13, 2009
University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference Tuesday, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City. Ferentz said expected Tate to start Saturday's game unless something unexpected developed in practice this week.

University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz talks about the design of the brace that quarterback Drew Tate has been fitted with to protect his injured left hand at his weekly press conference, October 31, 2006 in Iowa City.

Iowa and football coach Kirk Ferentz have yet to finalize the seven-year contract extension that was announced three months ago.

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said he and Ferentz have spoken about the contract recently, and there’s no concern that the deal might fall through.

“The honest answer is when he was going through recruiting, we really just set it aside,” Barta said. “We talked about it a couple of times over the last several weeks. It’s one of those things, we already know we’re going to do it, we’ve already agreed in principle on what we’re going to do, we just haven’t committed it to a contract.

Read the rest of this entry »


Iowa men’s schedule nears release, ticket prices likely to go down

May 13, 2009

Iowa men’s basketball is likely to give their athletics department a financial reprieve this fall on travel.

Iowa makes three trips in non-conference play: Iowa State, Northern Iowa and the CBE Classic (against two of Texas, Pittsburgh or Wichita State) in Kansas City. All three are bus trips rather than flights for the Hawkeyes. Last year, Iowa traveled to Charleston, S.C., Las Vegas and Boston for non-conference games.

Iowa’s non-conference schedule, which also includes home games against Drake and Virginia Tech. One contract is out right now, which is why the school hasn’t released the schedule yet.

It also appears Iowa will miss out on the flight to Penn State this year. The Big Ten schedule is not finalized, but that trip wasn’t included on the league’s rough draft schedule. That will be released later this summer or early fall.

It also appears Iowa will lower overall men’s basketball ticket prices this year. Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Tuesday that no decision has been made.

“Taking into account the economy, taking into account we’re rebuilding our program and getting back to where we want to be, we’re taking a look at lowering some of the ticket prices,” he said.

Iowa averaged 100 more fans this year (10,861) than last year, but it’s way off from the early part of the decade when Iowa averaged a sell-out. After a an all-time worst start, Iowa dropped ticket prices for its final five home games to $10 each. That gave the department a major lift in bodies, although not necessarily the bottom line.

“This past year, it (attendance) actually took a small dip up,” Barta said. “So that’s a good sign.”


Iowa under budget at Outback Bowl, loses money on tickets

May 12, 2009
Iowa center Rob Bruggeman leads the team and fans in the fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa center Rob Bruggeman leads the team and fans in the fight song after their 31-10 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2009. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa battered South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and won the budget battle, too.

Iowa spent about $1.52 million during its week-long trip to the Tampa, Fla., Outback Bowl in late December and early January. That was about $130,000 under the $1.65 million budget provided by the Big Ten Conference.

“At the end of the day our fans showed up, we won the game, and we came in under budget,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said. “It was a success all the way around.”

Both Iowa and South Carolina were guaranteed at least 11,000 tickets for the Outback Bowl. Iowa’s athletics department sold more than 20,000 tickets in the Hawkeyes’ last Outback Bowl berth on Jan. 2, 2006 and asked for 15,000 tickets to sell to local fans. But Iowa failed to sell nearly 2,300 tickets, costing the department almost $150,000.

“The last time we went down there, we sold over 20,000, so we scaled back to 15,000,” Barta said. “I think what happened, anecdotally, we heard, that a lot of fans were just going to the bowl site and buying their tickets from there just to make sure they got some. At the end of day, I was focused on the bottom line. And the bottom line was we still came in under budget and that was where we wanted to be.”

Barta and department officials estimate 20,000 Iowa fans attended the game, or nearly 37 percent of the 55,117 in official attendance. Barta had expected fewer fans to attend in part because of the economic slowdown, which is why Iowa chose to sell 5,000 fewer than three years ago.

“You want to take care of your fans so you have to make a decision quickly, how many you’re going to purchase versus how many your fans are going to have to purchase from the bowl,” he said. “We’d prefer to have them all come from here, but we scaled back because we knew the economy would have some effect.”

Iowa earned a $3.3 million payout for participating in the Outback Bowl. That money then was given to the Big Ten, which gives each school participating in a bowl a stipend. The extra bowl revenue then is divided among the 11 Big Ten schools and the league office.

Barta said the school donated extra tickets to local charities in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

“We’ve done everything from contact some kids’ groups, some local groups, some charity groups and tried to move them out that way,” he said.

Iowa spent more than $1.1 million on team and staff travel, including transportation, meals, lodging and tickets. Marching band expenses totaled $328,340 while expenses for university leaders cost more than $50,000.

Here’s a look at the school’s financial summary:

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
 

 

DEPARTMENT OF ATHLETICS  

OUTBACK BOWL  

1/1/2009  

INCOME  

Participant’s Share (per Big Ten Conference policy)  

$1,650,000  

EXPENSES  

Athletics Department (Team and Staff)  

Transportation  

$290,842  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$425,625  

Awards (117 players @ $350)  

$40,950  

Equipment & Supplies  

$20,130  

Tickets (application costs)  

$17,365  

Tickets-Unsold (6 @ $140 + 2,291 @ $65)  

$149,755  

Tickets-Comp (1,277 @ $65)  

$83,005  

Tickets-Comp (69 @ $140)  

$9,660  

Advance Planning Party  

$4,203  

Administrative/Other  

$99,167  

Total Athletics Department Expenses  

$1,140,702  

Marching Band  

Transportation  

$235,310  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$66,725  

Tickets-Comp (346 @ $65)  

$22,490  

Administrative/Other  

$3,815  

Total Marching Band Expenses  

$328,340  

Institution (UI Leadership, PCA,Other)  

Transportation  

$16,375  

Meals, Lodging & Per Diem  

$30,323  

Tickets-Comp (29 @ $140)  

$4,060  

Administrative/Other  

$0  

Total Institution Leadership  

$50,758  

Total Expenses  

$1,519,800  

Balance  

$130,200  


Brands talks Sanderson, Iowa State vacancy; Lickliter talks potential recruits

April 22, 2009

Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands met with reporters for a few minutes before the annual Linn County I-Club banquet Wednesday night. He admitted he knew more about the vacant Iowa State opening than he would tell reporters, but he talked about the impact of former Iowa State Coach Cael Sanderson taking over at Penn State.

 “He’s doing what he feels he needs to do to win championships for his family,” Brands said. “Whether it makes sense to other people, it doesn’t matter. He’s making the call, and Penn State is certainly a program to be worthy of pursuing. No doubt.Here’s the video:

“Specifically Penn State, the last time it was open was 11 years ago. They (jobs) don’t come around very often. He looked at it, analyzed it and made the call. I’m speaking for him.”

Brands said he won’t change his approach of facing Penn State just because of Sanderson.

 “I think the challenge is always great,” Brands said. “(Sanderson) certainly boosts their program, but we have to get ready for them just the same. Now they’ve got a new coach at Penn State, and we’ll be prepared like we always are for everything.”

There have been no discussions, but count on the Iowa-Penn State dual in Iowa City next winter costing fans a few more bucks as the school’s designated premium wrestling meet.

 

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter left the event early to attend an open gym on the final night he could see prospects. Iowa officially signed Vincennes junior-college forward Devon Archie on Wednesday and can offer up to three more scholarships for the fall, but only “if it’s the right guy,” Lickliter said.

“We’ve looked at both the post players, and we’ve also looked at combo guard-perimeters and somebody that can complement,” Lickliter said. “I really believe we have positions filled right now. But we need is some added depth. And I’m not talking about added depth as far as positions and how many minutes you play or if you start or whatever. I’m talking about matching skills.

“We’ve got skills that complement one another, and we could use another guy that could fit in well. We’ve seen a few, and we’re comfortable with more than one guy that I’ve seen. It’s still a process, and we just have to make sure that it’s the right move.”

Lickliter said the school has no visits scheduled with potential recruits. He’d like to add walk-on players this fall as well. Iowa now has added four new scholarship players to this fall’s team.


Lickliter talks about upcoming trip

April 17, 2009

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter met with about 150 fans in Boone at the Boone-Story County I-Club meeting Wednesday. Along with recruiting and other topics, Lickliter also talked about the team’s upcoming trip to Italy and Greece in late May. Here’s the video:

Iowa will take seven players on the trip, including walk-on freshman John Lickliter. They include upcoming senior Devan Bawinkel, upcoming junior Jarryd Cole, upcoming sophomores Aaron Fuller, Matt Gatens, Andrew Brommer and Anthony Tucker.


Live blog on Tuesday with Big Ten football coaches

April 13, 2009
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, left, reaches over to shake hands with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno on Aug. 1, 2006, at the Big Ten Conference football media day in Chicago. Paterno, 81, has won two national titles at Penn State. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, left, reaches over to shake hands with Penn State Coach Joe Paterno on Aug. 1, 2006, at the Big Ten Conference football media day in Chicago. Paterno, 81, has won two national titles at Penn State. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, I will live blog the Big Ten football coaches’ spring teleconference. All 11 coaches will talk about their teams in 20-minute increments.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz will speak at 11:40 a.m.

Here’s the full schedule: 11 a.m. Jim Tressel, Ohio State; 11:10 a.m. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan; 11:20 a.m. Bill Lynch, Indiana; 11:30 a.m. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; 11:40 a.m.; Kirk Ferentz, Iowa; 11:50 a.m.; Bret Bielema, Wisconsin; Noon; Ron Zook, Illinois; 12:10 p.m. Danny Hope, Purdue; 12:20 p.m. Joe Paterno, Penn State; 12:30 p.m. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern; 12:40 p.m. Tim Brewster, Minnesota.

If you have any questions for the coaches, ship them my way. Here’s the link:

http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090414/SPORTS/904139974/1001/NEWS


Shonn Greene a witness in assault case

April 9, 2009
Iowa Hawkeyes Adrian Clayborn celebrates after tackling Maine Black Bears Jhamal Fluellen for a loss of 3 yards during the third quarter of their game against the Maine Black Bears at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 30, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive Adrian Clayborn celebrates after tackling Maine's Jhamal Fluellen for a 3-yard loss during the third quarter of their game at Kinnick Stadium on Aug. 30, 2008. (Jonathan D. Woods/The Gazette)

Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn will stand trial June 22 on charges he punched an Iowa City cab driver Jan. 18.

Clayborn, a 20-year-old junior from St. Louis, was charged with assault causing bodily injury, a serious misdemeanor. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the police complaint, Clayborn punched a cab driver who honked at him during a traffic jam around 2 p.m. Jan. 18 at the intersection of Johnson and Bowery streets. The complaint states Clayborn got out of his vehicle, reached inside the driver side window and punched the driver. A court filing states the driver had a swollen lip and a small cut inside his mouth. The police complaint also states a friend had to restrain Clayborn.
Shonn Greene

Shonn Greene

All-American Iowa running back and likely NFL draft pick Shonn Greene was one of six witnesses listed in court documents.  It was undetermined whether it was Greene who restrained Clayborn during the altercation.

Clayborn was arrested March 16 and released on his own recognizance. A pre-trial conference is set for 9 a.m. June 10.

Clayborn remains in good standing with the football team, unlike other players who have had recent legal issues. That includes Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz’s son, James, who was arrested for public intoxication earlier this week. Clayborn started 11 of 13 games last fall as a sophomore.


Alamo Bowl continues climb to prominence

April 9, 2009
Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (5) congratulates  Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) following Iowa's 26-24 loss in the  Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006 in San Antonio.

Iowa quarterback Drew Tate (5) congratulates Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) following Iowa's 26-24 loss in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 30, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

The Alamo Bowl annually picks fourth or fifth among the Big Ten and Big 12′s bowl-eligible teams. But some of those middle-of-the-road school have produced top-tier performances in television viewership and attendance.

In 2006, the Iowa-Texas game posted the best TV ratings of any non-BCS bowl game that season. It was a Saturday night contest and posted a bowl-record 5.99 rating for ESPN, less than 1 full point behind the Orange Bowl that season.

In 2005, the Nebraska-Michigan game also earned the top TV ratings for any non-BCS bowl game in 2005. Both years, the Alamo Bowl blasted past New Year’s Day tradition-rich bowls such as the Cotton, Capital One, Outback and Gator in TV ratings.

The Alamo Bowl now will parlay those impressive ratings into an even better time slot. The Alamo Bowl has joined the New Year’s lineup, playing its game at 7 p.m. Jan. 2, a Saturday. There are five bowl games on Jan. 1 — Outback, Gator, Capital One, Rose and Sugar. Four bowl games are scheduled for Jan. 2 — Cotton, International, Papajohns and Alamo. There’s no BCS bowl scheduled that night, which gives the Alamo the entire spotlight. Only an NFL scheduling curveball could keep the Alamo Bowl from record-breaking ratings.

“This year’s calendar has provided us an excellent primetime Saturday time slot that will allow the Valero Alamo Bowl to reach a wide audience,” said Alamo Bowl President Derrick Fox. “The January 2 date should also work well for people traveling to the game as they can celebrate Christmas at home and then spend a long weekend ringing in the New Year in San Antonio.”

Iowa has played in the bowl four times since its debut in 1993. Iowa has beaten Texas Tech twice (1996, 2001) while losing to California (1993) and Texas in 2006.

The placement appears to be a win-win for the bowl and the participatory leagues in terms of exposure. Past Big Ten schools, such as Northwestern in 2008, looked at the Alamo Bowl as slap. Now, with a primetime slot in January, the Alamo Bowl seems more equal with the Big Ten’s other slotted bowls.

Look for the bowl to push both leagues for marketable teams, both geographically (Big 12 South) and from a national television perspective (say, Wisconsin or Iowa over Northwestern or Purdue). If the bowl can get a high-profile matchup, like in 2005 or 2006, it may be hard to bump the Alamo Bowl from the New Year’s Day lineup.


Budget cuts coming to Iowa athletics department

April 8, 2009
Members of the Iowa football team arrive at the Eastern Iowa Airport on Jan. 2, 2005. Iowa beat Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005.

Members of the Iowa football team arrive at the Eastern Iowa Airport on Jan. 2, 2005. Iowa beat Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta has told coaches and administrators to trim their budgets for the upcoming 2010 fiscal year.

“If our revenue is going to be down, and we anticipate it could be, then our expenses have to go down because we’re self-sustaining,” Barta said.

Barta and his staff has not targeted specific areas, and everything is up for evaluation – except the sports themselves.

“We’re not considering cutting any sports at this time,” he said.

Budget cutting likely will involve travel and scheduling, the most visible expense outside of coaching. Iowa’s athletics department spent more than $4.2 million in travel during the 2008 fiscal year, according to documents provided to The Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act. But that’s a drop of more than $1.1 million from the 2007 fiscal year.

Travel costs often shift like a yo-yo depending on football and basketball schedules. During the 2007 fiscal year, Iowa’s football team spent nearly $2.17 million on travel, then a three-year low. But the men’s and women’s basketball teams saw travel costs soar by more than $360,000 combined, costing the department nearly $5.35 million.

“I’m not a micromanager in general, not just in budgets, but in all things,” Barta said. “I’ve asked every unit, whether it’s a coach for a sport or any other area in our department, and I’ve said, ‘We need to cut back in anticipation of our revenues being down and where are you going to cut?’ So each unit head, each head coach, each director is coming to me with ideas. I’m letting them come up with the way.

“If they have a particular trip, they think they can still go on —competitively, it’s important to them — but they’ll cut in some other areas, then I leave it up to them as long as we get to the bottom line.”

During a bowl season, the football program generates about 40 percent of the department’s total travel expenses. In recent years the school charters flights to all football road games but Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa State. Lately, Iowa has played those schools in the same school year.

Iowa’s football travel declined steadily for three years following the 2005 fiscal year (2004 football season), when the program spent $2.46 million in travel costs. That figure dipped to $992,265 in fiscal year 2008. Part of that financial drop was associated with three bus trips (Iowa State, Wisconsin, Northwestern) and not traveling to a bowl game. Football travel costs expect to rise for the 2009 fiscal year because of five regular-season road flights and a bowl trip to Tampa, Fla.

This fall, Iowa football will catch a break in travel costs by busing to Wisconsin and Iowa State, while flying to Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State. In a Big Ten schedule change, Iowa will host Northwestern for the second straight season.

“Every year you take a look at your conference matchups and, it seems to go every couple of years, the travel goes up and down,” Barta said. “It certainly is this coming year; we look like we’re going to catch a break. We have policies about when we travel to certain areas, when we’ll bus versus when we’ll fly. So we’re doing everything we can to come up with ways to reduce our expenses.”

“By the time you take a large group like that, get them from campus to the airport get there in time to get through screening, go through all the of the security process, you’re almost there anyway.”

Two midrange football locations — Minnesota and Illinois — are taken out of the discussion this year. Iowa doesn’t play at Minnesota until 2009 and doesn’t travel to Illinois until 2012.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz has no problem re-evaluating his program’s expenses to help the department weather the tough financial climate.

“I think everybody in the department is being asked — and rightfully so, and reasonably so — to be fiscally responsible and see if there’s something we can do,” Ferentz said. “Times aren’t like they always were, things are different everywhere on every plain. So if there’s something we have to do or can do, we’re going to do that, certainly.”

Like with the football program, fortunate men’s basketball will aid the bottom line this fall. Iowa plays in Kansas City next November in the CBE Classic, and its two non-conference road games are trips to in-state rivals Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The basketball team will take buses to all three venues, said Jerry Strom, Iowa’s director of men’s basketball operation. Iowa likely will host an ACC opponent in the annual ACC-Big Ten Challenge next year after playing at Boston College last season.

Iowa may alter some of the day trips while competing on the road. But it won’t change its policies on student-athlete welfare such as altering meal per diem or stacking more than two athletes to a room, Barta said.

“There are quality control issues to make sure the experience is great for the student-athlete,” Barta said. “But then after that, the coach has discretion.”


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