Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard made an appearance on the Murph & Andy radio show on KXNO Thursday afternoon to cover a wide range of topics as the world of college athletics continues to evolve. As is his usual style, Pollard did not hesitate to speak his mind and gave some honest feedback. Our friends at Cyclone Fanatic have transcribed the whole interview here, and I’d highly recommend listening to it if you have 30 minutes of free time. For the cliffs notes version, these are the moments that most caught my attention.
1. The Tyrese Hunter Transfer Situation
Let’s get the big one out of the way. I’m sure this is the question that everyone wanted answered: What happened? To hear Pollard’s interpretation, it sounds as though Tyrese Hunter has signed on with an agency that is paying his “NIL” money and coordinating his next school. We know from Hunter’s background that being paid to play basketball is going to change his and his family’s lives. The NBA G-League would have covered that but with no guarantee beyond 1 or 2 years of pay in the $500,000 per year range. Instead, an agency has allegedly said that they will pay Tyrese Hunter while he is in college and coordinate his transfer to a “blue blood” school. It’s an incredible accusation from the AD of a player’s former school. For whatever rules may exist in this current environment, this seems like a flagrant violation. Will anything come of this? Most likely no, but it will be interesting to monitor in the coming years if tampering or recruiting violations come up at his next stop. It also sounds like the option of being paid through the guise of NIL to stay at Iowa State was off the table.
2. The “We Will” Collective Might Not Have a Huge Impact
Jamie Pollard seems overall lukewarm to the idea of the We Will collective to help coordinate payments to Iowa State’s student athletes. I’m sure part of this is due to his position as AD and the collective not being affiliated with the university. For starters, and this is a great point, how do we determine who gets paid for what work? Tying it to charity is an idea that is within the spirit of NIL, but it may take away from charity work that Iowa State athletes have done in the past without payment. Additionally, there are issues with where the funds will come from. According to Pollard, there may not be a huge pool of money that comes in when you consider donors that already are members of the Gridiron Club and other booster activity.
3. Iowa State’s Coaches Are Here To Stay
Of course this is what you would expect the AD to say, but based on his supposed conversations with Matt Campbell, TJ Otzelberger, and Bill Fennelly, it seems that Iowa State has a long term plan in place to secure its standing in the NCAA landscape. In the current NIL world, the schools paying the biggest checks are the ones that will want to put coaches in place. It sure sounds like our coaches are totally against that. Do we really think Matt Campbell would be interested in another job at, say LSU or USC where multi-million-dollar rosters are going to be the norm going forward?
“You know, I thought coach Campbell said it best to me. He said, ‘Hey, if we’re going to be in that space, I’m going to the NFL, because at least there’s salary caps and there’s rules,’ because what you’re talking about right now has no salary caps and no rules. That’s a recipe for disaster. And he’s absolutely right. And if so, if a group of schools thinks that’s the way forward, have at it, because that’ll be a mess.”
4. Iowa State Will Not Be Using NIL As A Recruiting Tactic
Right off the bat, Jamie relayed a conversation he had with football coach Matt Campbell and men’s basketball coach TJ Otzelberger who supposedly said they’d rather coach D3 sports than be in the business of paying for a player. Jamie also took the time to highlight the fact that LSU basketball, who just fired coach Will Wade, and allegedly had his roster bought and paid for, was beaten by us in the NCAA Tournament. He’s had conversations with men’s basketball recruits and other athletes who want to play for the love of the game. Money is not the motivating factor of who Iowa State is pursuing at this time, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
“I can tell you this right now, Coach Otzelberger and Coach Campbell have both tell told me, the day that they have to buy a player is the day that they’re going to go coach Division III, okay? Because that’s not who they are. That’s not who we are. And that’s not how Iowa State will be successful. We’ve said it all along, we have to make promises that we can keep, and that we’re going to be successful at Iowa State if we worry about how these young men and young women finish, not how they start.
And if somebody that, you know, I’ve met with four basketball recruits in the last week and a half, the one young man, awesome. I asked him why he wanted to transfer to Iowa State. And he said, ‘I want to be on a team, I don’t want to be with a group of people that are worried about where their paychecks coming from.’ And he said, ‘I want to be on a team where we win as a team.’ And I looked at TJ in the meeting, and I said, ‘Can the AD choose who does all press conferences for our basketball team?’ Because that’s who we are.”
The changing dynamic of college athletics do put ADs and other university administrators in a tough spot. Overall, Iowa State fans should feel confident in the leadership in place from the top-down in the department. Jamie Pollard has been preparing the athletic department for stability since early 2020. In his words, the schools that were most stable are the ones that will succeed going forward. We’re recruiting better than ever in most sports and are seeing results on the field, currently sitting in the Top 20 of the Learfield Cup standings. Also, let’s take minute to laugh at Texas who got out-recruited by Bill Fennelly for a basketball player and assumed it’s because we paid more money than them and their $50,000 salaried offensive lineman and $4 million QB.