The summer is a time for fun and relaxation. For soaking up the sun and getting away from things, even if only for a few days. In the sporting world, it’s a time of desperation where fans are looking for something, anything to get them through to that first fall Saturday when they can get an actual glimpse of their favorite team. And thus, the summer is a time for the excitement build and the hype train to gather steam.
The University of Iowa is no exception. Playing on that fan excitement and hunger for news, we saw this little beauty drop over the weekend:
We are excited to share something with you all…stay tuned for the release on Monday the 17th!
— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) July 15, 2017
So here we are on a Monday morning, only a few hours (presumably) away from learning what this exciting news could be. And so the hype train leaves the station. And speculation has run the entire gamut. I’ve seen everything from rumors of a hockey team or a lacrosse program to a new contract for baseball coach Rick Heller, to the less exciting public announcement of large gifts to fund some capital projects such as the Kinnick North End Zone renovations or the Finkbine Clubhouse.
We’ll know the true answer soon enough, but in such dull sporting times, it is no doubt fun to speculate. If I were a betting man, I’d put most of my chips in the “major gift to fund a capital project” corner and perhaps throw a few behind a potential new contract for Heller. We’ve heard Barta talk about both recently without anything formally announced and we know both are big needs of the department.
Heller will certainly be a hot commodity soon, and he’s voiced a desire to stay in Iowa for his career. However he’s vastly underpaid relative the top tier baseball coaches around the country. The questions remain about Iowa’s willingness to drive large sums of money into a non-revenue sport (I think they should, especially with the new TV money coming in and the excitement Hawkeye fans showed when the program was on TV late this season), but there’s no question the man deserves it.
And on the capital projects front, the Iowa athletic department has always made an effort to be vocal about their largest supporters to show their appreciation and encourage others to show their generosity. Both projects will need big gifts to meet their goals and despite how exciting it would be for this announcement to be something more program related…