"We just need to continue the trajectory that we've been on, academically and athletically," Pollard said Wednesday. "if we continue to do that, our fans have shown they will rally behind it." Jamie Pollard in the Des Moines Register
Last week, a potentially huge event for Iowa State athletic came and went without receiving much notice: Jamie Pollard received a five-year extension to his contract. This will extend his current contract out until 2019. This has potentially huge implications for all Cyclone programs, and not because Mr. Pollard is quite the snappy dresser as evidenced by the completely unaltered photograph above. After the jump, a look a three reasons why Pollard's contract extension is excellent news for Cyclone fans.
Paper Like Books I'm Stacking: First of all, Pollard's new contract means one of the best athletic directors Iowa State has ever had is committed to seeing his vision for the athletic department through to its conclusion. Now, there were times early in his tenure (say, around 2008 or so) where it looked like that vision was leaving the Cyclone athletic programs lying dead in a shallow grave somewhere outside of Boone. Pollard did a lot of things right early in his tenure, but hiring Gene Chizik and Greg McDermott and letting Cael Sanderson leave for Penn State were not among them.
But back to what Pollard did well when he first arrived in Ames. It's hard to quantify emotions like excitement and interest, but donations can provide a decent measure. When Jamie Pollard arrived in 2005, Iowa State's budget was hovering around the $32 million range. By 2011, that number has climbed to $48.5 million, a 51% increase in six years.
Now, a good chunk of this money is due to increased TV money. But compare Iowa State's budget to other Big XII schools. From 2010 - 2012, Iowa State's budget increased by 17.3%, second only to Texas for that time period. While it's obviously easier to post big percentage gains when working with less money than your competitors, the results show that Iowa State is catching up to the rest of the Big XII financially.
And Jamie Pollard is a huge part of that increase. Pollard's predecessor, Bruce Van der HeWhoMustNotBeNamed, tried to to thrift Iowa State into fiscal solvency. In the arms race of college athletics, this strategy was short-sighted and foolish. Pollard realized that Cyclone athletics were way undervalued and immediately set about raising donor levels and ticket prices. This pissed off some of the older donors, but it was a necessary move to keep Iowa State competitive with the rest of the Big XII. Without Pollard's commitment to raising money, Iowa State would never be able to be remotely competitive current college sports.
Are You Experienced? At this point Pollard's experience with Iowa State and the Big XII is unparalleled. He's been in Ames for seven years, has hired two coaches in men's basketball and football and guided Iowa State through the existential crisis of conference alignment. For two straight years, it looked like ISU was going to be relegated to the Big East or worst, but Pollard and the other Big XII ADs found a way to stick together. The knowledge that he has about the school, its teams and its donors is unique right now, and Iowa State is very lucky to have a guy with Pollard's experience on their side.
But don't kid yourself. Just because the Big XII appears to be relatively stable at the moment doesn't mean a destabilizing force (*cough* Longhorn Network *cough*) couldn't cause another round of conference realignment. Jamie Pollard was an instrumental force in keeping the Big XII together for the past two years, and has a decent of amount of clout in the Big XII as dean of athletic directors. And Iowa State will need every bit of experience and clout that Pollard provides in the upcoming years.
20/19 Vision: Maybe the main reason Jamie Pollard needs to stick around is to finally get Iowa State to the level that he wants it to be at. When Pollard arrived at Iowa State, he said "I'm a builder, not a maintainer." Many believed that this meant Pollard would be on to another project a few years after he arrived in Ames. But as time has passed, it's clear that Pollard really meant what he said. He doesn't want to build Iowa State into a mediocre, mid-level school with decent-to-crap teams. He wants to build something unique. Something that's never been seen at Iowa State before. And that's going to require some time.
So while Pollard has started building something impressive at Iowa State, he's nowhere near completion. Even though he's gotten over $100 million in new facilities and improvements off the ground in his seven years as athletic director, one big project is still on the horizon: Jack Trice Stadium's south endzone.
This project has seemingly been in the works since the stadium was built in 1975, and other than a few plans and blueprints, it's no closer to completion now than it was 35 years ago. And while other projects have taken precedence (new videoboard and soundsystem, new football facility), the south endzone will get done. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. But before Jamie Pollard is done at Iowa State, Jack Trice Stadium will have a bowled in endzone.