Article on Pollard in CR Gazette
Here is an article from the Saturday, Cedar Rapids Gazette. Typically a Hawkeye rag, the Shmuckeyes seem to be nervously watching the western horizon from signs of a coming storm.
There are some interesting choice of words used by Pollard. Thought I would share.
IOWA STATE ATHLETICS
Pollard pushes ambitious agenda
However ISU’s athletic future plays out, it won’t be status quo
By Scott Dochterman
AMES — Jamie Pollard’s naturally lit office overlooks Jack Trice Stadium.
On a football Saturday, Pollard can see most of the playing field from Iowa State’s Jacobson Athletic Building, although bleachers filled with band members distort the view. In some ways, the obstruction represents a self-inflicted casualty of his own ambition.
Pollard, Iowa State’s director of athletics, had a press box football suite. He sold it. The band formerly sat in the south end zone, but Pollard shifted it to the north side to entice more season ticket holders. The 2,880 former band seats sold out in 28 days.
He moved two coaches from their stadium office suites and sold them, too.
‘‘We just felt there was an alternative,’’ Pollard said. ‘‘We just started using this office. There were donors there was clearly a market for, so we felt we should take the money because the money will be more valuable to us in the long run. That doesn’t mean we’ll never have an AD’s suite.’’
It’s a small sacrifice for
Pollard, 41, to watch a game from his office. But it represents his determination to shove Iowa State forward with an aggressive financial model, one in which his coaches often stand in the front lines. Consider that since taking over as athletics director in September 2005, Pollard has:
| Pushed a $135 million agenda geared toward renovating facilities or building.
| Fired men’s basketball coach Wayne Morgan after three seasons to hire rising national star Greg McDermott from Northern Iowa.
| Reassigned wrestling coach Bobby Douglas to an administrative position to ensure that former four-time national champion Cael Sanderson could succeed Douglas.
| Expressed public disappointment over the football team’s 3-5 start
| Paid $6,550 for a billboard in Cedar Rapids proclaiming ‘‘It’s a Cyclone State’’ leading to the annual Iowa-Iowa State football game.
Pollard understands his task. His department finished the 2006 fiscal year with the Big 12’s smallest budget. Iowa State has beaten Oklahoma five times in 73 football games. His school pales in stature, national recognition and budget compared to rival Iowa’s.
But those challenges only strengthen his resolve. Pollard is blunt and honest. His efforts to boost Iowa State toward the Big 12’s median in budgets and facilities are the first steps in a staircase toward success. ‘‘The reality of the situation is if you want to be successful, it doesn’t just happen,’’ Pollard said. ‘‘And a program like Iowa State, again go back and look at the Oklahoma stats, status quo is not going to get there. We’re going to have to do things differently. I have a belief that two things happen every day: you can get better or you can get worse. If you think you’re going to hang out, you’re going to get worse.
‘‘We’ve got to stretch, we’ve got to reach, we’ve got to overachieve . . . We’re an underdog. We’ve got less money, we’ve got less resources, it’s hard for us.
That doesn’t mean we can’t do it. It just means you’ve got to have the right people and they’ve got to be willing to devote their life to be a difference- maker.’’
Morgan led the Cyclones to the NIT Final Four in 2004, the NCAA Tournament in 2005 but fell short of both last spring. Pollard determined the program wasn’t headed in his preferred direction, so he took action.
By hiring McDermott, who led Northern Iowa to three consecutive NCAA tournament berths, Pollard hoped to generate fan buzz. Returning to the Big 12’s upper echelon also was a consideration.
‘‘My job is no different than being president of a company,’’ Pollard said. ‘‘And when you’re in a leadership position, you’ve got to put the organization ahead of your personal desires. I had to assess that situation to determine whether I felt that the leadership that was here before could sustain the level of performance that we need. And I didn’t believe it could.’’ Pollard also had to act quickly with Sanderson, who finished his collegiate career at Iowa State with a 1590 record and won the 2004 Olympic gold medal. Pollard neither confirmed nor denied that he pushed out Douglas, who’s now an assistant athletics director, but said with colleges contacting Sanderson ‘‘we weren’t going to get caught flat-footed.’’
‘‘Unless you’re in the room, you’ll never know what ultimately was decided,’’ Pollard said. ‘‘I would just say it was a situation, again, where it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when. And everybody who was involved in that decision had to finally negotiate to a time where we need to do it now.’’
Pollard’s approach seems to have supporters. No one has challenged him for racial discrimination after firing or reassigning two African-American coaches (Morgan and Douglas) to hire two white coaches (McDermott and Sanderson). Iowa State fans seem to agree with his approach to both situations.
Jean Bjorset, president of the Cedar Valley Cyclone Club, said past administrators were too loyal to coaches. She likes that Pollard is not afraid to make changes. ‘‘I know from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty upbeat right now,’’ said Bjorset, who lives in Hiawatha. ‘‘I didn’t want to have a situation like we did years ago with Dan Gable,’’ a former national champion at Iowa State who coached Iowa to 15 national wrestling titles in 21 years.
‘‘( Pollard) is aggressive, much more than we’ve seen in the past, but that’s what we need.’’
Erb Hunziker, a Jack Trice Stadium suiteholder from Ames, said he likes Pollard’s style.
‘‘Well, he’s got lot of fresh ideas, a lot of good ideas. The question is can he get enough money to do them?’’ Hunziker said. ‘‘Other than that, from what I gather around here, he changed the basketball coach, and that was much welcomed. ‘‘There’s no doubt about it. I think he’s good spark of life for Iowa State.’’
The football program’s recent struggles have Pollard’s full attention. Along with adding 24 more suites, the school will enclose the south end zone to add at least 5,000 more seats. Iowa State fans split their loyalties for 12 year coach Dan McCarney, who has led the Cyclones to five bowls the last six years. McCarney, however, voiced his support for Pollard.
‘‘He’s a fabulous leader, he’s great for Iowa State. Him and (President) Gregory Geoffroy, are you kidding me?’’ McCarney said. ‘‘Those are tremendous leaders. As I’ve said, I’ve been at this a long time, and I’m no rookie and I know leadership when I see it, and I think they’re tremendous leadership. There’s no doubt it.’’
McCarney’s fate lies with Pollard. So does the school’s sporting perception. If Sanderson and McDermott take Iowa State near the top in wrestling and men’s basketball, if the facilities projects generate enough revenue and if the football program moves past middle-of-the-road status, Iowa State could become more than an ‘‘oh-by-the-way’’ athletics program, both regionally and nationally.
‘‘You’ve got to be aggressive and then get lucky,’’ Pollard said.
That’s what Pollard — and the school itself — is banking on