ISU’s Mann: Coach. Musician. Advanced degree holder.

  DES MOINES — Coach. Musician. Advanced degree holder.

 Iowa State assistant Cornell Mann’s truly a man of many letters — as his recent completion of a master’s degree in higher education and leadership demonstrates.

 Mann received his graduate degree diploma before helping to coach the No. 12 Cyclones in Saturday’s 83-54 win over Drake. So it was truly a whirlwind weekend for the man behind the song, “Super Cyclone,” which he created and performed to benefit the United Way (it’s available on iTunes).

“Papers, a lot of papers,” Mann said when asked about the time he needed to carve out to attain his advanced degree. “A lot of research. I’m super pumped, but I’m super pumped for what it means for my family, for my kids and recruits; recruits’ parents and our players.”

 Mann was tasked with producing a handbook of sorts for his final project.

 “I put together a philosophy booklet on basketball,” he said. “A book full of my philosophies on basketball — on offense, defense, academics, punishment, or lack thereof. All that stuff. And, of course, I got a good bit of it from what we do here.”

 Mann — one of 12 Big 12 assistants to earn an advanced degree— credited his fellow assistants and ISU coach Fred Hoiberg for allowing him the added time to work on it.

 “I think it’s very important for people to know that (not) every head coach (allows) assistants time to do those things,” said Mann, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Akron in 1995. “Without Fred being who he is, I don’t get to take advantage of getting my master’s. With that being said, it’s very important for me and my family. I’m the only one in my family that has a master’s. It’s important for my kids — to set the bar.”

 He’s done that, all right, but how did he manage to find the time, even with the aid of his friends?

 “You don’t carve out the time and God’s not going to give us anymore than 24 hours (in a day),” Mann said. “You just use your time more wisely.”

 Mann also managed to find time for music. He raps and sings on “Super Cyclone” — and he’s been crafting catchy tunes for a long time.

 “I opened up for the Wu Tang Clan at the State Theater in Detroit when I was coaching at Central Michigan,” Mann said. “I’ve done a lot of shows. I’ve even done shows with masks on just because I didn’t want people to know that it was me. But I have a plethora of music out there with other people. I’ve done commercials.”

 Mann said he won’t learn how much his most recent tune has raised for the United Way until sometime next month. iTunes, he said, produces quarterly reports. Mann’s also hoping whatever sum has been raised will be matched by some super donors.

 “Janet Lovell (Athletics director Jamie Pollard’s administrative assistant) is the one who really spearheaded this whole deal," Mann said of the genesis of his latest music project. "She’s been spearheading things at Iowa State for United Way for a long time, so I’m just helping her.”

 Seems the helping hands form a circle — and for that, Mann expressed his gratitude.

 “If you set a goal then very little should stand in the way of that,” he said. “And also, you’ll have people who’ll help you out, whether it be Matty (Matt Abdelmassih) and Charlie (Henry) helping me out with something in terms of basketball when I had work to do, or borrowing a tutor and getting a little help there. Iowa State basketball, if people don’t know, is more of a family situation than I’ve ever been a part of."


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.