BVD Q&A Part 2

2004-05 has to go down as one of the greatest academic years in the history of Cyclone sports. And given all the recent success, it wasn't very hard to get Iowa State Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde to agree to sit down with our publisher on KXNO to review the year in Cyclone. Here's the conclusion of our discussion.

Deace: Looking at the amount of coaches you had win honors this year is staggering. And I thought Wayne Morgan should've been Big 12 Coach of the Year, too, with everything he overcame. Elsewhere, Bill Fennelly won another award for his bounce-back season with the women's basketball team, Dan McCarney was Big 12 Coach of the Year, K.J. Kindler was the national gymnastics coach of the year, and Bobby Douglas was the USA Wrestling Coach of the Year.

Van De Velde: That just shows you the kind of leadership we have within our program. We have some remarkable coaches. They all had some outstanding student-athletes, too. Even Lou Ball was named the national gymnastics assistant coach of the year. It's been a remarkable year. I think it's one of the top five years in the history of Cyclone athletics in terms of overall success.

Deace: Your position here at ISU has been discussed prominently since the Larry Eustachy fiasco two years ago. I've been on record since then saying I thought you made the right decision to stick up for standards, even if it meant running a coach who won two Big 12 championships. And I think the criticism you've received about the matter has been unfair, too. I don't agree with everything you guys do, but who does? So what constitutes success in this job? If you look at your graduation rates for all of your student-athletes, it's at the top of the league. If you look at revenues, they're up across the board. You mentioned before you're just one of eight schools to win a bowl game and have both of your basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament. Do you sometimes wonder what you can do to please your detractors?

Van De Velde: I don't know if you can please everybody. You said it all, I think. In this type of position there is a certain amount of politics that enter into it. You can't worry about things beyond your control. You just have to do the best job you can do, and work like crazy to help your coaches and student-athletes be successful. Then you just let the chips fall where they may.

Deace: Are you happy here?

Van De Velde: I'm very happy here, I've always enjoyed Iowa. I'm a graduate of Iowa State, my parents lived here for 25 years, and we love Iowa and have really enjoyed our time here.

Deace: There was a report earlier this year that listed you for the Colorado job, and another report that recently had your name connected with TCU. Are you looking to leave? A lot of folks might take look at your record and say they couldn't blame you for going somewhere else where you're more appreciated after the success you've had the last 4-5 years here.

Van De Velde: That stuff you read in the paper isn't always accurate, but some of it is. It's nice to be wanted, and I consider it a compliment to be mentioned for those positions. The truth is we're focused on the task at hand which is what can we do for Iowa State? That's what I'm focused on and my family is focused on. We just feel very fortunate to be here at Iowa State and living in such a great community.

Van De Velde: What's the morale within the program? When I talk to your detractors that's always what they cite, despite the statistics. I'm a data guy that wants to take as objective a viewpoint as I humanly can. As far as I'm concerned, does morale matter when you're successful and making money? If that's my business you can call my Shirley, and it won't hurt my feelings. Can you quantify what the morale is like in the Jacobson Building on a daily basis?

Van De Velde: I think it's good. An old football coach once told me that morale can be tied to preparation. In that sense our department is really prepared to confront future challenges. Our budget has never been stronger. We're improving our facilities. Our customer base continues to grow. By being well-prepared for the future we hope that improves morale and keeps everyone excited about the program.

Deace: Two years ago you sat here and hired who everyone thought was the compromise candidate to replace Eustachy—Wayne Morgan. Did you honestly really believe that two years later you'd have to talk about giving him an extension based on a two-year record that only Tim Floyd has eclipsed in the history of ISU basketball? Did you really think back then that he'd already have this kind of impact on the program?

Van De Velde: You know what I really think? I think it's only going to get better. I'm so excited about our basketball program and the athletes we have on that team and the ones we have coming in. If I'm a Cyclone fan, I'm ecstatic about the future.

Deace: You have the best backcourt coming back in the league. If newcomers like Theo Davis and Shawn Taggart are as good as advertised, is this a team that can contend for the Big 12 title next year?

Van De Velde: We are going to be right up there, and not just this year but for years to come. Wayne has done a great job, and I really admire the caliber of player he has brought into the program, both the talent and the character of those young men.

Deace: Do you worry now about retaining him? He's a successful black coach, which probably makes him even more attractive to prospective university presidents who think they can pay him more than he's making in Ames, Iowa.

Van De Velde: It's always a double-edged sword, that's the price of success. It's better then having nobody want your people, isn't it? Quite frankly, we have the ability to pay our coaches fairly handsomely, so I'm not too worried unless it's a top, elite program that tries to come in.

Deace: One of the guys you've retained, who has been courted before, is Bill Fennelly. He's coming off a 23-win regular season, that's one of the best ever at ISU.

Van De Velde: Bill has been to the NCAA Tournament seven times in a period of 10 years, which is really phenomenal. He also has a good group of (recruits) coming in. I saw two of them play in the state championship over in Missouri, and they're phenomenal athletes. I don't think his program is going to slip a notch. I think we'll be right back in the thick of it next year competing in the Big 12 and for the NCAA Tournament.

Deace: We're coming up on another football season. What can be done about a Big 12 television package that is designed to benefit only the top schools, according to your conference commissioner? That's all well and good in a free market, but aren't you guys are all on the same team in the Big 12? Why compete against each other for exposure? What can you do to rectify that for Cyclone fans across the country and state who want to see their team on TV more?

Van De Velde: I think we need to go to a regional format. When the conference was formed 10 years ago, they decided they could get the most TV money if they made it across the Big 12 footprint. If we went to a regional format, then you would see the teams and games in your area, just like what happens in basketball and with the Big Ten. When we do re-negotiate the contract with Fox Sports Net that is something that will be discussed thoroughly.

Deace: One year from now, what do you hope is the dominant ISU sports story of 2005-06?

Van De Velde: I just hope that we can continue to grow as an athletic department, and that we can continue to run our program with integrity and that we'll make all the Cyclone fans proud and excited about Iowa State.

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