IT'S NOT PLAGIARISM IF YOU LINK TO IT: THE WADLEY SAGA AND BUDGET CUTS

By Mike Jones on July 1, 2020 at 11:50 am
Wadley Circa 2017
© Brian Powers/The Register
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The Wadley Saga

Back on June 29th, Akrum Wadley released a scathing statement about his time with Iowa football:

His mother, Sharonda Phelps, first spoke out about Wadley’s treatment a few weeks ago via a Facebook Live video. They then reached out to Robert T. Green, who runs Pre-PostGame, a “Sports Business Management & Advisory Firm” to coordinate their efforts. Green, who purportedly played in the NFL and who doesn’t at all look like a grifter with a fuzzy job title from a suspect organization, has basically spent the past few days “leading the charge” against Iowa Football. 247’s David Eickholt has a breakdown (and fact check) of Green’s latest video in this thread:

In response to Wadley’s statement a number of Iowa fans have gone through his old Tweets to discredit his current claims, point out his academic issues, his “partying” issues (this was documented in this Hawk Central piece), and the fact that he apparently pocketed the money of multiple people who sent it to him in exchange for signed memorabilia. This prompted a response from ex-running back Jordan Canzeri, who was at Iowa the same time as Wadley:

Let’s try to work through all of this. If you’re a person who is claiming that you didn’t say “Why isn’t Akrum Wadley on the field more?” back when he played, you’re lying. His entire career we questioned why Wadley didn’t see more playing time when he was obviously the most electric player on the field. There was also sniping by the coaching staff at press conferences, this being the most glaring example. Was this due to his own behavior? Was it due to some toxicity in the program? Chances are: it was both. Because that’s how the world works. It isn’t a dichotomy.

The fact that Wadley spoke positively about the program as he was still trying to play in the NFL or play football anywhere shouldn’t be used to discredit his current allegations. Toeing the party line, especially at Iowa, pays dividends. It’s not beneficial to insult your old coaches if you’re trying to get a job. We also have good reason to believe there was some toxicity in the program because, uh, well, a bunch of ex-players said there was and Chris Doyle ain't around no more.

On the other hand, it’s not good that Wadley is scrubbing all his social media accounts of anything positive he said about the program as it could easily be explained for the aforementioned reason. It’s also not good that he pocketed money for autographs or that he’s allowing Robert T. Green, a charlatan who appears to be more interested in being loud than being right, and who likely preys on people in these types of situations, to be his voice. 

As I said on Twitter, this isn’t a black and white story. Wadley was probably the recipient of some unfair treatment, brought on partially by some of his prior behavior and also by some “problematic” elements in the football program. These problems need to be solved. There is still an ongoing review into the program and I’m eager to see what actions Iowa takes.

PS: Brian Ferentz’s name sure comes up a lot from these ex-players.

Budget Cuts Ahoy

It was only a matter of time before the juggernaut that is the Iowa Athletic Department started to feel the financial implications of the COVID-19 crisis and yesterday, the domino fell. The Iowa Athletic Department announced that it would be reducing its budget by approximately $15 million for FY21. Iowa’s fiscal year runs from July to July, so that cut will be reflected from this July to July of 2021.

The total athletics department budget was anticipated to be $127.5 million this fiscal year, up from $124.8 million the year prior. This cut will reduce the budget to $112.5 million. Most of the $15M cut will be in reduced operating expenses, while the rest will come from compensation reductions, per the release:

staff earning above $200,000 will see a 10 percent base salary reduction, staff making $150,000-$199,999 a 7.5 percent reduction, salaries of $100,000-$149,999 a five percent reduction, $50,143-$99,999 a three percent reduction, and staff making below $50,143 a two percent salary reduction.

The coaches and Gary Barta will also take a hit:

head coaches Lisa Bluder, Tom Brands, Kirk Ferentz and Fran McCaffery, have voluntarily agreed to a one-year, 15 percent base salary reduction or contribution back to the athletics department. Deputy Athletics Director Barbara Burke has agreed to a 25 percent salary reduction, while Barta has reduced his total compensation package by more than 30 percent.

It's not entirely clear what the reduced operating expenses may be, although we know Iowa hasn't announced plans to discontinue any sports (which is good). They may be coming from travel and recruiting budgets; recruiting has basically been reduced to texts and Zoom calls during the pandemic anyway, which is significantly cheaper than flying coaches around the country and hosting events on-campus. 

Looking back to 2018-2019, Iowa had $115.8 million in athletic expenses but had revenues of $144 million, netting a cool $28 million. Football was the biggest earner, earning the Iowa $81 million in revenue, versus only $36.8 million in expenses. You can see why athletic departments across the country are doing everything they can to play football this year. It’s a cash cow and how some departments stay afloat.

And On That Note…How Can They Play?

Per CBS Sports (yes, Dennis Dodd wrote the article but it’s OK because he’s just quoting a bunch of people) and Dr. Sheldon Jacobson, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, there are some grim numbers to consider, should football proceed this fall. Jacobson expects “a 30%-50% infection rate of the approximately 13,000 players competing in FBS this season. Based on his research, he also projects 3-7 deaths among those players due to COVID-19.” If you’re saying to yourself “well he’s just a computer science professor” read the article because the methodology is explained.

Yahoo Sports’s Pete Thamel also waxes philosophical on the “great unknown” that could doom the college football season.

To me it’s as simple as: If they have the season and one college football player dies of COVID-19, can the NCAA say it was worth it? I don’t think so.

Quick Hits:

Morehouse and a number of other D3 college have already cancelled their seasons. Will D2 and FBS/FCS schools follow?

Another realignment piece. Feel the excitement from Pat Forde. 

You can play with 10 college football teams in Madden 2021. They are: Florida, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Clemson, Nebraska, Oregon, Miami, Texas and USC are all available to choose from. lol what

The most absurd and controversial national title claims in college football history.

Finally, remember when TV was awesome?

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