By Seth Nailor
Coming soon to the Iowa Events Center's Wells Fargo Arena: the Iowa State Cyclones of Des Moines. Well, not exactly, but the idea of Iowa State athletic events being hosted at the newly constructed arena in downtown Des Moines is already upon us.
The Iowa State men's basketball team will host the Buckeyes of Ohio State in a preseason match-up dubbed the Capital City Classic this winter. Earlier in the week the deal was finalized to bring Buckeye head coach Thad Matta's team to Des Moines for the game.
That is just one example of what Iowa State has on tap for bringing Iowa State to patrons and fans in Des Moines.
Iowa State announced Wednesday that they have been chosen as one of eight schools to play host to first- and second-round games of the 2008 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.
Iowa State has hosted first- and second-round games six times since 1998, and can also claim the 2002 NCAA Midwest regional on its resume. The attendance marks the school received for those events still rank among the NCAA tournament's attendance leaders.
Senior associate Athletics Director Dr. Calli Theisen Sanders was intimately involved in the bidding process and has extensive experience in selecting host cities for events such as this. Sanders served the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee and chaired the West Regionial advisory committee and site selection subcommittee. She also helped direct the 2000 and 2001 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.
Sanders believes all of those things plus Iowa State's past record hosting events played into them landing the 2008 first- and second- round games.
"Obviously Iowa State having run successful events before, my previous service on the committee, and I think there is a trust and respect that we are going to do a good job here at Iowa State," said Sanders.
By all accounts Des Moines, with its new 16,110-seat Wells Fargo Arena, is an impressive venue to hold the games. The arena, which holds its grand opening Tuesday, July 12, seats 2,000 more people than Hilton Coliseum in Ames, and Des Moines offers more hotels for the teams and fans to stay in. However, Sanders insists that it is more than the bottom line that goes into picking these sites.
"It's about whether it's going to be good for the game, about whether it's going to be a great experience for the student athletes, whether it's going to be a great experience for the fan. And while the finances (are) a piece of it, what they want to know is, are you going to be able to draw people, is it going to be a great event." Said Sanders.
With the success that Iowa State has had hosting the events at Hilton Coliseum you would wonder why they would choose to move the event to Des Moines.
"When the NCAA went to eight teams for the first and second rounds, it pretty much eliminated Ames from consideration," said Sanders. "Ames just doesn't have the quantity of hotels necessary to house eight teams. So we were forced to go to Des Moines, but it's a great option."
With Ames not having the required amount of hotel space to host events such as these you can't help but think if the days of hosting events at Hilton are over. Sanders disagrees, stating that Ames and Hilton will still be first on the list when it comes to bidding on hosting these events. Case in point is the July 1st announcement that Iowa State will be hosting the 2006 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Regional in Hilton Coliseum.
"We'll try to bid for things we can get at Hilton," said Sanders. "If Hilton doesn't meet the specs or Ames doesn't meet the specs we'll go to Des Moines. But it's a partnership with a lot of other people, but we think that we do great events and we would like to continue to do so."
Sanders also likened the closeness in proximity of Ames and Des Moines as an advantage for Iowa State fans and teams.
"Now our teams and our fans don't have to go long distances if we make the tournament so we think it's a great alternative to Ames. When we can host in Ames we will continue to host in Ames but when we don't meet the specifications right here at home we will try to get as close as we can."
So whether it's in Ames or Des Moines, all of Cyclone Nation will have some great events to look forward to in the upcoming years.
By Mike Dempsey
The University of Montana's loss is the Iowa State Cyclones' reward.
Dr.Calli Theisen Sanders, Senior Associate Athletics' Director since 2003, was one of five finalists for the Athletic Director position at Montana, her alma mater. Sanders was a 1986 graduate. Jim O'Day, who worked in the Grizzlies' athletic offices, accepted the job June 30.
Sanders says applying for the A.D. job was a "no lose situation." Although her ultimate goal is to oversee an entire university athletic department, she loves her current position working for the Cyclones.
"Being from (Montana), it was emotional," Sanders said.
She spent many hours researching and preparing for the two full days of the grueling interview process.
"Then you wait," Sanders said regarding the most difficult part; whether or not she was going to hired.
Dr. Sanders has reasons to be optimistic that one day she will be introduced as the new Athletic Director, wherever that might be. In a traditionally male dominated profession, only 3 % of A.D.'s are women. But it appears that trend is changing.
"It's difficult for women to get an Athletic Director's job," Sanders said. "But of the last 12 (positions filled), three went to women," Sanders added.
Working under Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde's direction, Sanders supervises 12 of ISU's intercollegiate sports, including women's basketball. Her duties also include overseeing Media Relations and Event Management. The latter was instrumental in Iowa State being one of eight schools chosen to host the first and second round of the NCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Championship in 2008. Although Iowa State is the host school, it will be held at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
"When the NCAA went to eight sites, it eliminated Ames from consideration," Sanders said. Ames doesn't have the hotel capacity to meet the demand for players, media and fans. The Wells Fargo Arena was a perfect fit for both Iowa State and the city of Des Moines, which is trying to book big events in the new arena that opens this summer.
"It's a great alternative to Ames," Sanders said referring to the proximity and the large Cyclone fan base within the capital city.
If Coach Bill Fennelly's team is invited to "the dance" in March of 2008, the Cyclones will stay close to home. Part of the contract is an agreement that the host school plays at their sight in the first two rounds.
Sanders is very familiar with the NCAA sight selection process, having formerly served on a committee picking cities to host the NCAA Women's Final Four. She says the NCAA looks for sites that will be a positive experience for players and fans, but ultimately it's about the bottom line. "Are you going to draw people and have a great event?" Sanders said the committee researches.
One potential drawback for Cyclone fans is the ticket distribution process. In the previous years that Iowa State has hosted several NCAA first round and even a Midwest Regional in 2002, season ticket holders and Cyclone Club members were given early buy options to purchase the best seats at Hilton Coliseum. Sanders is certain plenty of tickets will be available for the strong following Fennelly's team enjoys, but the first 30 rows of every section might not be clad in cardinal and gold.
"The NCAA is fairly strict to make it a neutral site," Sanders said.
The winning bid to host the women's basketball first and second rounds wasn't the only good news coming out of the Iowa State A.D.'s office. On July 1 Hilton Coliseum was announced as one of six sites to host the 2006 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Regional on April 8.
"I am thrilled at the opportunity to host such a prestigious event," head gymnastics coach K.J.Kindler said in a press release.
The Cyclone gymnasts have earned 10 straight regional berths, meaning the likelihood of a large and supportive home town crowd. Kindler's team advanced to the NCAA championship last season.
"Iowa State gymnastics program has been one of the best nationally for over a decade and we want to thank the NCAA for allowing us to host this fantastic event," A.D. Van De Velde said.
Prior to coming to Iowa State, Dr. Sanders was the Associate Athletics Director at the University of Alabama Birmingham. During her tenure, UAB established a Division 1-A football program, as well as women's soccer. This is vital experience if the Cyclones choose to institute new programs such as hockey, or reinstitute the baseball program that was cut in 2001.
Sanders said starting a new program is a slow process that needs support, especially financial, before the process begins.
"People jump on board after a program has success," Sanders said. In order to bring on a new athletic program, or to start over in the case for baseball, and be competitive, Cyclone support needs to happen long before a coach is hired.
The Senior Associate A.D. denied the rumors sweeping message boards and radio shows that Iowa State is close to bringing baseball back to Ames.
Despite her assertion, there are a couple of factors that give fans hopes that the boys of summer will be playing in the next few years. The University of Colorado, along with the Cyclones, are the only Big 12 members without a baseball program. With college baseball television viewers at an all time high, and playing in arguably the premier conference, there is potential revenue missing from Iowa State's budget. From the Big 12 Conference, Baylor and Nebraska advanced to the College World Series, while fellow conference mate Texas won the National Championship.
Just as the time is right for a university to hire a qualified applicant like Dr. Calli Theisen Sanders to direct their athletics, I believe it is time to bring baseball back to the Iowa State campus. Hopefully we'll be able to lure Sanders into staying a Cyclone for a few more years, to help the baseball program with a fresh start.
By Valerie Connell
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 has helped countless female athletes to realize their dreams. In only one generation, women's participation in sports has increased 400% at the collegiate level and an astonishing 800% in high school. It is almost beyond belief that Olympic women's softball was first established a short nine years ago. Dr. Dot Richardson, the captain of the USA Softball Team in 1996 and an orthopedic surgery resident at USC, hit the first home run in Olympic softball history. She attributes her success on and off the field to Title IX.
Dr. Calli Theisen Sanders, ISU Athletics' Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator, agrees, "I was a direct beneficiary or Title IX," she says. "I was eight years old when I became the only girl on my Little League team, one of the first girls in the nation to play Little League Baseball."
Dr. Sanders also manages ISU Athletics' Title IX and gender equity compliance. "I think [women} have made tremendous gains," she says. "Iowa State is one of the leaders as far as women's participation in sports. We still have much to do nationally, but we've come a long way."
When asked about Title IX concerns as far as ending some men's sports, Dr. Sanders states, "That's done for economic reasons, not equity reasons. I am not in favor of dropping men's sports simply to be in compliance with Title IX, and I don't believe that is the case." She says that Iowa State's decisions to discontinue men's sports are made based on the overall financial status at the university and athletic department, not exclusively Title IX.
Title IX does not only regulate athletics, nor does is only benefit women. Title IX is about equity in all aspects of education. The law states that "No person… shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." It applies to all public and private educational institutions that receive federal funds. The law requires that women and men be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports, and that they receive athletic scholarships proportional to participation.
Before Title IX, many universities had separate entrances for male and female students, and required women to have higher test scores than men to be admitted. Many female students were not allowed to take classes such as auto mechanics or criminal justice, and male students were kept out of home economics and nursing courses. Some campuses did not allow women to stay out past midnight. Female college enrollment has increased 50% since 1972, and women have made great strides in almost every field of study.
After Little League, Dr. Sanders went on to play softball and basketball in her home state of Montana, earned her bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees, and became a leader in collegiate athletics. At UAB, Dr. Sanders was instrumental in not only developing a football program, but taking it to Division 1-A status. She was one of just five finalists for the Athletic Director position at the University of Montana this past year. Out of the last twelve Division 1A Athletic Director vacancies, three were filled by women. "It's getting better," Dr. Sanders says. "People are realizing that [women] can do the job, and I am hopeful it will happen for me one day."
Cheryl Miller, a member of the 1984 Olympic gold medal women's basketball team and current NBA analyst for TNT, has said, "Without Title IX, I'd be nowhere." She may be right. Without Title IX, we may not have a Cheryl Miller or a Mia Hamm, or closer to home, Cyclones Anne O'Neil (recently drafted by the WNBA's Sacramento Monarchs) or Ada Anderson (indoor and outdoor Track and Field's 800M champion).
The First Circuit Court of Appeals noted, "Interest and ability rarely develop in a vacuum; they evolve as a function of opportunity and experience." Title IX ensures that women will continue to receive those chances, not only to further their careers as athletes, but as students, citizens, and role models to the next generation of girls.