Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Paving Paradise

Paving Paradise at the Expense of Trees
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, September 26, 2023, p. A6

“They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”
If you’re close to my age you’ll remember those lines from Joni Mitchell’s 1970 song, “Big Yellow Taxi.”

They came to me recently during my morning walk past a recently significantly expanded University of Iowa parking lot in what used to be a neighborhood of families, trees and wilderness enjoyed by all.

When it comes to the changes, as with so many other decisions, “it’s all about the money.” The rental income from a house full of students totals more than what a family can afford. And apparently somebody thought the income from 130 additional parking spaces would be well worth the loss of 30 trees (roughly four parking spaces per tree). [Photo source: Nicholas Johnson]
"They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum”
And so it came to pass that, without notice to neighbors (of which I’m aware), 30 trees were sawed into pieces, dug out, carried away and replaced with cars.

Those of us living in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, our public officials and local organizations, have long been recognized for our understanding of trees’ importance. Cedar Rapids’ well-deserved recent $6 million federal grant is evidence of national recognition of our accomplishments.

The more we continue to learn about trees, like other seeming miracles of Nature (such as Brittney Miller’s recent page one turtles story), the humbler we should become.

Trees ancestry goes back 400 million years when ferns developed a vascular system enabling water and minerals to go up from the roots to the leaves, and food to go down from the leaves to the roots. From 200 to 56 million years ago there appeared ginkgo and pine, and ultimately maple and oak.

Trees can’t talk, but apparently they can communicate with, and care for, each other, sometimes over long distances, sending warnings of threats and sharing food (with mother trees favoring their offspring). If only Congress could do as well.

During World War II there was a saying, “Don’t just stand there, do pushups or something.” Well, trees don’t “just stand there.” They are a major ally in fighting climate change, each absorbing about 350 pounds of CO2 annually.

I have to monitor the Air Quality Index. Trees improve it by trapping particulate pollution on leaves and bark.

They produce oxygen. They help cool in summer and warm in winter by as much as 30 to 40 degrees, reducing air conditioning and heating bills. They improve our physical and mental health. They can reduce flooding, capturing 5,000 gallons a year.

And for those who still think “it’s all about the money,” trees can help attract businesses and tourists, and increase your property’s value by up to 15 percent.

For now, keep your eye on the expanding “tiny forest” movement.

Clearly, more parking spaces and fewer trees are not the answer.
“Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone”
Nicholas Johnson enjoys living under a large canopy of trees. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi” lyrics,” Jan. 7, 1970, https://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=13 (“They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot/. . . They took all the trees/Put 'em in a tree museum/. . . Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got/Till it's gone”)

More rental from students than families. Karen Black, “The Role Student Housing Plays in Communities; Off-campus housing for college students has grown extensively over the last decade, and communities across the country are hoping to gain control over its spread and potential negative impact on neighborhoods and available affordable housing,” Shelterforce, Sept. 6, 2019, https://shelterforce.org/2019/09/06/the-role-student-housing-plays-in-communities/ (“For landlords, student rentals are an incredibly lucrative real estate opportunity as students pay by the room, allowing landlords to charge more per square foot as there are several roommates paying a monthly rent. As a website for real estate investors recently noted, “a home that might rent for $1,000 a month to a single family could be rented by the room for nearly twice that.” In addition students sign one-year leases so rents can be raised each year if the market allows. For neighbors, student housing can be disruptive as students keep different hours and enjoy different activities than their neighbors, such as late-night parties. And for real estate markets near college campuses, student housing can be transformative as investor capital competes with homeowners, making it so sale prices and rents increase. Local governments in college towns across the country are adopting proactive strategies to gain a measure of control over the spread of student housing and limit any negative impact on real estate markets and affordable housing stock supply near college and university campuses.”)

30 Trees, 130 parking spaces. These numbers are from my own counts and confirming re-counts.

Cedar Rapids/Iowa City awards for trees. “City of Cedar Rapids: Tree City USA Recipient,” Cedar-Rapids.org, April 19, 2023, https://www.cedar-rapids.org/news_detail_T6_R1936.php (“The City of Cedar Rapids was recently honored with the 2022 Tree City USA Award at the 32nd Annual Community Forestry Awards Luncheon in Ankeny. The award was presented by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources April 12 at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. Cedar Rapids has been a Tree City USA award winner for the past 45 years, longer than any other city in the state.

"Native Tree Restoration Initiative," Monarch Research, Marion, Iowa, "Planting Forward 2021-23 Participation Overview 092023.pdf (180 woodlands, 96 schools, 49 organizations, 5 municipalities, 4 colleges)

“Iowa City Named Tree City USA Once Again,” ICGov.org, April 23, 2023, https://www.icgov.org/Home/Components/News/News/301/390, (“Iowa City has once again been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.

Iowa City achieved its 43rd Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program's four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The City also received a Tree City USA Growth Award for demonstrating environmental improvement and an outstanding level of tree care.

Tyler Baird, Iowa City Forestry Superintendent, said: “Iowa City Forestry staff are committed to providing a healthy and sustainable urban forest for the benefit and enjoyment of all residents and visitors. The Tree City USA designation highlights this commitment to planting and caring for trees in our community.”)

Cedar Rapids federal tree grant. Marissa Payne, “In USDA’s $1.1 billion investment in tree planting, Cedar Rapids’ ReLeaf reforestation effort awarded $6 million; Iowa communities, Department of Natural Resources receive $15.7 million through Forest Service grants,” The Gazette, Sept. 15, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/federal-government/in-usdas-1-1-billion-investment-in-tree-planting-cedar-rapids-releaf-reforestation-effort-awarde/ (“In a move to expand equitable access to trees and green spaces nationwide, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday announced an award of $6 million toward Cedar Rapids’ effort to reforest the city after the 2020 derecho toppled most of the city’s tree canopy.”)

Brittney Miller’s turtles. Brittney J. Miller, “”Turtles Have Personalities – Which Could Help Them Survive; Coe Study Shows Ornate Box Turtles Behave Differently,” The Gazette, Sept. 14, 2023, p. 1, https://www.thegazette.com/environment-nature/a-threatened-turtle-species-has-personality-knowing-that-could-help-them-survive/

Trees’ history. “A Brief History of Trees,” Trees Charlotte, April 20, 2021, https://treescharlotte.org/tree-education/a-brief-history-of-trees/ (“400 million years ago: Fossil records of the first tree-like plants appear, such as lycophytes, ferns, and horsetails. These types of plants did not have seeds yet, but were the first to have vascular systems, . . .. 200 million years ago: Evidence of the first ginkgo trees. 150 million years ago: Evidence of the first pine trees. . . . 67 million years: Evidence of the first maple trees. 56 million years ago: Evidence of the first oak trees.”

“Phloem and xylem: Difference in a plant’s vascular system, explained,” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/video/152186/components-plant-vascular-system

Talking Trees. Richard Grant, “Do Trees Talk to Each Other? A controversial German forester says yes, and his ideas are shaking up the scientific world,” Smithsonian Magazine, March 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-whispering-trees-180968084/ (“I’m walking in the Eifel Mountains in western Germany, through cathedral-like groves of oak and beech, and there’s a strange unmoored feeling of entering a fairy tale. The trees have become vibrantly alive and charged with wonder. They’re communicating with one another, for starters. They’re involved in tremendous struggles and death-defying dramas. To reach enormousness, they depend on a complicated web of relationships, alliances and kinship networks.

Wise old mother trees feed their saplings with liquid sugar and warn the neighbors when danger approaches. Reckless youngsters take foolhardy risks with leaf-shedding, light-chasing and excessive drinking, and usually pay with their lives. Crown princes wait for the old monarchs to fall, so they can take their place in the full glory of sunlight. It’s all happening in the ultra-slow motion that is tree time, so that what we see is a freeze-frame of the action.

My guide here is a kind of tree whisperer. Peter Wohlleben, a German forester and author, has a rare understanding of the inner life of trees, and is able to describe it in accessible, evocative language. . . . Now, at the age of 53, he has become an unlikely publishing sensation. His book The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, written at his wife’s insistence, sold more than 800,000 copies in Germany, and has now hit the best-seller lists in 11 other countries, including the United States and Canada. . . .

A revolution has been taking place in the scientific understanding of trees, and Wohlleben is the first writer to convey its amazements to a general audience. The latest scientific studies . . . confirm . . .: Trees are far more alert, social, sophisticated—and even intelligent—than we thought.

[A] substantial body of scientific evidence . . . shows . . . that trees of the same species are communal, and will often form alliances with trees of other species. Forest trees have evolved to live in cooperative, interdependent relationships, maintained by communication and a collective intelligence similar to an insect colony.

Wohlleben [says], “All the trees here . . . are connected to each other through underground fungal networks. Trees share water and nutrients through the networks, and also use them to communicate. They send distress signals about drought and disease, for example, or insect attacks, and other trees alter their behavior when they receive these messages.” . . . To communicate through the network, trees send chemical, hormonal and slow-pulsing electrical signals, which scientists are just beginning to decipher. . . .

When a giraffe starts chewing acacia leaves, the tree notices the injury and emits a distress signal in the form of ethylene gas. Upon detecting this gas, neighboring acacias start pumping tannins into their leaves. In large enough quantities these compounds can sicken or even kill large herbivores.”)

Do pushups or something. Google can find no source for the saying, so I guess the default source is going to have to be “just a memory from childhood.”

Benefits of trees. “We Need Trees and here’s why . . .,” Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University, (no date), https://www.purdue.edu/fnr/extension/we-need-trees-and-heres-why/ (“Here are some easy ways in which urban trees and woodlots contribute to making cities more environmentally sustainable and livable:

• Trees can contribute to the increase of local food and nutrition security, providing food such as fruits and nuts for wildlife and human consumption.
• Trees play an important role in increasing urban biodiversity, providing plants and animals with a proper habitat, food and protection.
• A mature tree can absorb up to 350 lbs. of CO2 per year. As a result, trees play an important role in climate change mitigation. In cities with high levels of pollution, trees can improve air quality making cities healthier places to live in.
• Strategic placement of trees in cities can help to cool the air between 30-40o F, thus reducing the urban “heat island” effect, helping reduce extreme heat conditions in summer weather.
• Large trees are great biological filters for urban pollutants and particulate pollution. They absorb pollutant gases (such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone and Sulphur oxides) and filter fine particulates such as dust, dirt, or smoke out of the air by trapping them on leaves and bark.
• Research shows that living in close proximity of urban green spaces and having access to them, can improve physical and mental health, for example by decreasing high blood pressure and stress. Also, research indicates greatly improved neo-natal health as well. This, in turn, contributes to the well-being of urban communities.
• Mature trees regulate water flow and play a key role in preventing floods and reducing the risk of sewer overflow. Stormwater management is a crucial city infrastructure issue and trees help. A mature tree, for instance, can intercept more than 5,000 gallons of water per year and without trees, every rain would contribute floods.
• Trees also help to reduce carbon emissions by helping to conserve energy. For example, the correct placement of trees around buildings can reduce the need for air conditioning by 30 percent and reduce winter heating bills by 20-50 percent.
• Planning urban landscapes with trees can increase property value, by up to 15 percent, and attract tourism and business.

“Arbor Day Foundation Announces Planting Locations for 20 Million Trees Jan. 10, 2020; After YouTube's largest-ever crowdfunding campaign raised $20 million in just 56 days, the Arbor Day Foundation is kicking off tree planting around the globe,” T&D World, Jan. 10, 2020, https://www.tdworld.com/vegetation-management/article/21120273/arbor-day-foundation-announces-planting-locations-for-20-million-trees (“T&D=Transmission and Distribution -- “Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. "Now, the Arbor Day Foundation will do what we do best: ensure that 21.5 million trees are planted in the right places and at the right time." With more than 500,000 unique #TeamTrees donors from at least 200 countries, the first wave of planting was designed to ensure that every continent except Antarctica was supported.” Graphuc: #TeamTrees Thank you for helping to plant 20 million trees! Based on a U.S. Forest Service analysis, these trees will: • Remove 115,000 tons of chemical air pollution, enough gaseous pollution to fill 14,000 Goodyear blimps. • Absorb and store 1.6 million tons of carbon, the equivalent of taking 1.24 million cars off the road for a year. • Result in 1.5 billion cubic meters (400 billion gallons) of avoided water runoff, the equivalent of filling the water bottle of every person on Earth every day for a year.

[One cubic meter is 35.3147 cubic feet; 7.48052 gallons in a cubic foot = 396,258,479,000 gallons c. 400 billion gallons] Arbor Day Foundation, https://www.arborday.org

“Biden-Harris Administration announces historic funding to expand access to trees and green spaces in disadvantaged urban communities,” USDA Press Release, Newark, NJ, April 12, 2023, https://www.fs.usda.gov/news/releases/biden-harris-administration-announces-historic-funding-expand-access-trees-and-green (“Research shows that trees and green spaces improve physical and mental health outcomes and create new economic opportunities,” said USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Dr. Homer Wilkes. “They also enhance community green spaces and support lasting community relationships and engagements. These funds will enable us to bring these benefits to disadvantaged communities across the nation, and to support new partnerships with a diverse array of organizations.”” “John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “It’s about cleaning up the air we breathe, keeping city streets cool during sweltering summers, and creating safer, healthier neighborhoods for our kids.” “Since my days as Mayor of Newark, I have seen the transformative impact that planting trees can have for urban communities,” said Sen. Booker. “Studies have shown that trees save families money in heating and cooling costs, reduce air and water pollution, decrease the risk of respiratory illnesses like asthma, reduce flooding, and protect people from extreme heat.” “Investing in our urban forests is investing in the health and wellness of our communities,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “Trees provide numerous benefits, like improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, providing shade, creating safe outdoor spaces for recreation, and stimulating other kinds of investments.”)

“Throwing Shade: Exploring the Benefits of Trees,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, May 6, 2020, https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/throwing-shade-exploring-benefits-trees (“Corvallis, Oregon. Impacts included reductions in four air pollutants, (O3, NO2, SO2, PM10), carbon sequestration, decreased stormwater runoff, building energy savings due to shading, and (thanks to city trees), increased real estate values.”)

Trees Forever, https://treesforever.org/ and https://treesforever.org/resources/ and https://treesforever.org/document/why-trees-matter/ (“Benefits such as energy conservation, improved air and water quality, increased property values and economic vitality, improved health and well-being, habitat improvement and more!”) (“Trees Are Our Hardest Working Residents” stormwater reduction, property value increase, energy savings, air quality improvement, CO2 reduction)

Dustin Renwick, “How one city plans to recover from losing most of its trees; Tens of thousands of trees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, were destroyed by a devastating summer windstorm. That has meant heartache for city residents, but also opportunity to replant stronger,” National Geographic, Dec. 10, 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/how-one-city-plans-to-recover-from-losing-all-of-its-trees (80,000 trees; “Estimates of how much trees save in U.S. electricity costs range from $1 billion to $4.7 billion. The more conservative number comes from a study by Rob McDonald, lead scientist for nature-based solutions at The Nature Conservancy.” “Urban forests don’t just block sun, they also intercept rain -- it’s why the sidewalk under a sprawling hickory remains dry during a light shower. Tree roots prevent soil from moving as rainwater rushes across it, and leaves and branches keep rainfall from slamming into unprotected hillsides or impervious surfaces like parking lots and streets. When rain batters those areas, it erodes soil and often collects a mix of toxins, carrying them into streams and rivers. With so many trees gone, millions more gallons of polluted stormwater will enter the Cedar Rapids watershed.”)

Trees increase property values. “We Need Trees and here’s why . . .,” Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University, (no date), https://www.purdue.edu/fnr/extension/we-need-trees-and-heres-why/ (“Planning urban landscapes with trees can increase property value, by up to 15 percent, and attract tourism and business.”)

Tiny Forests. Cara Buckley, “Tiny Forests With Big Benefits; Native plants crowded onto postage-stamp-size plots have been delivering environmental benefits around the world — and, increasingly, in the U.S.,” New York Times, Aug. 26, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/24/climate/tiny-forests-climate-miyawaki.html (“[“Tiny forests” are] a sweeping movement that is transforming dusty highway shoulders, parking lots, schoolyards and junkyards worldwide. Tiny forests have been planted across Europe, in Africa, throughout Asia and in South America, Russia and the Middle East. India has hundreds, and Japan, where it all began, has thousands.

Now tiny forests are slowly but steadily appearing in the United States. In recent years, they’ve been planted alongside a corrections facility on the Yakama reservation in Washington, in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park and in Cambridge, where the forest is one of the first of its kind in the Northeast.”)

# # #

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Football Solutions

A Win-Win Plan for College Football
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, September 12, 2023, p. A6

College football began with problems. Excessive injuries prompted President Teddy Roosevelt to insist coaches require helmets – and the NCAA was born.

By 1939, University of Chicago President Robert Hutchins abolished football. Another university president told me: “I have always considered football an anomaly.”

The Hawkeyes have had their share of football-related challenges. Senator Chuck Grassley thought football shouldn’t have a non-profit charity’s tax-exempt status. A strength assistant coach overdid it and players were hospitalized. Suggesting Iowa’s taxpayers pay half the settlement to Black players alleging coaches’ racism. Letting nepotism send the Hawkeye’s offensive team to the national basement. Early ties to the gambling casino in Riverside. This year’s players betting on sports and the Big Ten roster going to 18, as teams share $7 billion from TV. [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson. Electronic "billboard" inside Kinnick Stadium advertising/promoting the Riverside gambling casino.]

Football coaches are the highest paid public employees in 40 states. The total for Iowa’s top six assistant coaches’ salaries is $5,075,000. Second highest is the head coach’s son. Dad gets $7 million. Academic salaries? Name me a UI college where the dean gets $7 million and the department heads earn between $500,000 and one million plus. Which academic among them can walk into the UI president’s office, ask for a loan, and walk out with $50 million?

Conflicts of interest abound. University presidents weigh courage against capitulation. Athletic directors must consider both profits and propriety when offered alcohol or gambling industry dollars. Coaches must encourage players’ academics while coaches’ salaries reflect players’ on-field performance. Non-tenured professors fear retribution for flunking players. Players who do seek education may have to choose between lab time or scheduled practice.

No, the reality is college football has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, the NFL’s farm clubs. Some players dream of a big-bucks future, though only 1.6 percent will make the NFL -- while suppressing the nightmares of an average 3.3-year career and lifetime injuries.

So long as parents and players accept the injury risks, and fans accept football’s cost in time and money, there will be football. Like the pig in the parlor, it just needs to be moved. [Photo source unknown.]

Here is a win-win solution. Recognize football as the big money entertainment industry it is. Let "Hawkeyes" lease the Kinnick Stadium, related land and structures, housing, the “Hawkeyes” name, and associated assets at going commercial rates.

The university would be freed of conflicts of interest and embarrassments, and the for-profit team would be freed of academic restrictions. Its board of directors could hire and pay its coaches and players whatever they negotiated.

Stop insisting players pretend to be students. Offer a spring-semester-only option.

Would the University need more money? Maybe. But “revenue is needed” should never rule decisions. It’s a sign your moral compass is spinning as if at the North Pole.

Iowa’s not the only football-challenged school. Now that college conferences are expanding nationally other schools may consider this move.

Any lesser separation of academy and football will only perpetuate the frustrations, conflicts, restrictions and embarrassments for teams and schools alike.

Nicholas Johnson watches football games and formerly taught sports law. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

President Teddy Roosevelt. Weiler, et al, Sports and the Law, 4th ed., 1993, p. 747. (“The NCAA was formed in 1906, when a former Harvard college football player, President Theodore Roosevelt, summoned leading university presidents to the White House and told them that unless they made that game safe – it was annually killing 15 to 20 players and permanently disabling another 150 or so – he was going to have to use the law to shut the game down. The schools reluctantly agreed to create a forum to reshape football, by placing helmets on the players and eliminating such dangerous tactics as the ‘flying wedge.’ The organization they formed became the NCAA.”)

Robert Hutchins. “Robert Maynard Hutchins, 1929-1951,” University of Chicago, https://president.uchicago.edu/about-the-office/history/robert-maynard-hutchins (“The one thing which drew more attention than any other, of course, was his [Hutchins’] elimination of varsity football. Hutchins heaped scorn upon schools which received more press coverage for their sports teams than for their educational programs, and a run of disastrous seasons gave him the trustee support he needed to drop football in 1939. The decision was hailed by many, but few other schools followed Chicago's lead.)

Senator Grassley. Dean Treftz, “Sports Donors Under Review,” The Daily Iowan, Jan. 29, 2007, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/BlogStuf/regents/dtdi0129.html (“Prompted by high-profile stories of lucrative salaries for collegiate coaches as tuition continues to rise nationwide, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is investigating the role that tax-deductible contributions play in university athletics.

Specifically, Grassley - the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee - is taking a look at tax-exempt donations that give donors higher priority for such perks as luxury seats and game-day parking spots.

‘I worry that these tax breaks may be eaten away by universities that raise tuition all the time,’ he told The Daily Iowan. ‘I want to know, what does it contribute to the educational purposes of the university?’

For instance, he pointed to new Alabama football coach Nick Saban, who is slated to earn $32 million over the next eight years. Those salaries, Grassley said, concerned him that universities and their athletics departments were losing sight of their scholastic mission.”)

Hospitalized players. Danielle Parenteau, “Iowa Football: What Landed 13 Players in the Hospital?” Bleacher Report, Jan. 27, 2011, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/586596-iowa-football-what-landed-13-players-in-the-hospital (“Thirteen University of Iowa football players were recently hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder. . . . The cause is reportedly strenuous exercise, though this has not been officially confirmed. …

Most of the players have not been identified. One who has been named is Jim Poggi, a first-year linebacker.

Before Poggi's problems started, he had undergone a workout ‘that involved performing 100 squats in a certain amount of time and pulling a sled 100 yards,’ writes Foley.

Another hospitalized player, Shane DiBona, described his workout and reaction on Facebook, according to a report on ESPN.com.

‘I had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can't walk and I fell down the stairs...’”)

Racial discrimination settlement. Stephen Gruber-Miller, “University of Iowa athletics will repay state $2M for football discrimination settlement,” Des Moines Register, March 9, 2023, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2023/03/09/university-of-iowa-reimburse-state-2-million-football-discrimination-lawsuit-settlement/69989184007 (“The University of Iowa athletics department will repay $2 million to the state to cover the costs of a recent legal settlement over racial discrimination in the university's football program.

The $4.2 million settlement was announced Monday between 12 Black former football players and the university. As part of the agreement, it was negotiated that the Iowa athletics department would pay $2.175 million of the costs, with the state paying the remaining $2 million.

The agreement drew immediate criticism, with State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, saying he did not support using taxpayer funds for the deal unless Iowa athletics director Gary Barta was ousted.”)

Nepotism results. Mike Hlas, “Catastrophic Offensive Repair Needs? Everyone’s eyeballing Brian-O-Meter; The quest for Brian Ferentz’s offense to average 25 points a game got off to a slow start, which hasn’t gone unnoticed far beyond River City,” The Gazette, Aug. 6, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/iowa-football/catastrophic-offensive-repair-needs-everyones-eyeballing-brian-o-meter/ (“The most-famous stipulation in College Sports 2023 is Iowa needing to win seven games and average 25 points this season or Ferentz’s contract will “terminate” on June 30, 2024. Many assume that would mean getting fired, but it’s also possible a new contract or position would be negotiated.”)

Max Laughton, “‘Scandal unfolding in plain sight’: A bad coach, an ‘insane’ contract and why he’ll never be sacked,” Fox Sports, Feb. 8, 2023, https://www.foxsports.com.au/nfl/college-football-2023-brian-ferentz-bizarre-contract-extenson-iowa-hawkeyes-problems-nepotism-dad-kirk-ferentz-wont-fire-him/news-story/fb099a664151d099a165352480c886f9 (“The bizarre new contract handed to Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has shone a spotlight on perhaps the strangest - and worst - coaching situation in college football. . . .

Iowa had an absolutely incredible defense in 2022; according to ESPN’s respected SP+ metric, the best in the entire country . . .. Oh, and they had the fifth-best special teams, to boot. . . .

[Head coach’s son, Brian] Ferentz’s offence was a simply horrendous 118th out of 131 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). . . . They averaged 251.6 yards per game, 130st in the country and the lowest for a Big Ten conference team this century. . . . But the concerns around Ferentz aren’t purely surrounding his coaching ability. In 2020, he was cited in complaints by multiple former players, when Iowa dealt with a racial reckoning of sorts. . . .

The University of Iowa has rules around nepotism - understandably, because a situation like this one can easily develop - except they’re not exactly watertight.

When Ferentz was elevated from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator in 2012, it was claimed his father did not hire him . . .. Instead Iowa athletic director Gary Barta officially said he hired Ferentz, and that Ferentz reports directly to him . . .. College football writer and podcaster Alex Kirshner put it best in response to the latest twist in the Ferentz tale. ‘This is just an insane situation. Iowa football doesn’t belong to Iowa anymore. It’s a family small business,’ he tweeted.”)

Chad Leistikow and Steve Berkowitz, “Iowa football coaches' salaries for 2023 season: Phil Parker's pay bumps to $1.4 million,” Hawk Central, Des Moines Register, July 13, 2023, https://www.hawkcentral.com/story/sports/college/iowa/football/2023/07/13/iowa-football-coach-salaries-revealed-for-2023-phil-parker-levar-woods-brian-ferentz/70409682007/ (“Meanwhile, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz – the head coach’s oldest son – had his $50,000 pay cut reflected in the public-records request. Ferentz’s contract was amended this offseason by outgoing athletics director Gary Barta, his direct supervisor, after Iowa compiled the worst yards-per-game output of any Power Five school since Wake Forest in 2014 and the Hawkeye program's lowest since 1978. Brian Ferentz’s offense must average at least 25 points in 2023 and Iowa must win seven games for him to earn a raise and a two-year contract extension; otherwise, his contract is unlikely to be renewed.”)

Football’s promotion of Riverside gambling casino. See lengthy list of items, discussion and itemization of sources, in Nicholas Johnson, “Does Herky Have a Gambling Problem,” Jan. 25, 2012, first entry, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2012/01/

Alcohol. Although omitted for space reasons, the ties between the athletic program and students’ alcohol consumption are also relevant. Here is a passage from an earlier blog post:

“Football Trash Talk” (a little over half-way into the post), FromDC2Iowa, Sept. 12, 2012, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2012/09/football-trash-talk.html (“In fairness, it's tough for a university administration to simultaneously try to (1) carry out programs designed to discourage college students from binge drinking and other forms of alcohol abuse and its consequences, while (2) (a) engaging in a lucrative joint-marketing agreement designed to increase the sale of Anheuser-Busch products, and (b) engaging in a gambling bet between the presidents of Iowa and Iowa State in which the winner gets -- that's right, a bottle of booze. (The UI administration has reassured critics of this last seeming conflict by noting that it advises that hard liquor as well as beer should also be consumed "responsibly.")

“Iowa State, Iowa university presidents settle up on college football bet," Des Moines Register/Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 13, 2012 ("On the line was a bottle of Templeton Rye, a drink sold by an Iowa-based company and billed as 'Prohibition-era whiskey.' . . . [D]oes wagering alcohol while the university works to curb problem drinking send a mixed message? University officials say no.")

Iowa football student athletes’ sports betting. John Steppe, “ Records: Iowa players bet on 14 of their own football games; Regulators reiterate they have no evidence Hawkeye games compromised,” The Gazette, Aug. 11, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/iowa-football/which-iowa-football-games-did-players-allegedly-bet-on-during-2021-2022-seasons/ (“Hawkeye football players made illegal wagers on at least 14 of their 27 games over the last two seasons, court documents show, . . .. The list of 14 Hawkeye games — seven in 2021 and seven in 2022 — that court records show were involved could potentially grow as the investigation from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation into sports betting . . . continues. . . . In the last two weeks, 15 people affiliated with the campus’ [Iowa and Iowa State athletic] departments have been charged with tampering with records, an aggravated misdemeanor punished by up to two years in prison.

When the investigation was first announced, the UI indicated that 26 current athletes could be involved . . .. Court records allege all five used sports wagering accounts set up by adults even though they were too young to bet under Iowa law — not only a crime, but a violation of NCAA rules against student athletes gambling on sports. . . . [If] the allegations are proven true, the athletes charged may have played their last snap of college football. The NCAA's reinstatement guidelines suggest athletes who bet on their own team ‘will potentially face permanent loss of collegiate eligibility in all sports.’”)

Erin Murphy, “5 charged in Iowa sports betting probe plead guilty to lesser charges; The 5 current and former Iowa and Iowa State athletes have pleaded guilty to underage betting, which carries only a fine and no jail time,” The Gazette, Aug. 6, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/state-government/5-charged-in-iowa-sports-betting-probe-plead-guilty-to-lesser-charges/ (“Under NCAA rules, student-athletes who wager on a game in which they compete or on any competition involving their school could potentially face permanent loss of collegiate eligibility in all sports. Dekkers, Sauser and Blom each placed bets on their respective teams, and Christensen placed bets on other Iowa athletics events, according to court documents.”)

See also: https://www.thegazette.com/sports/what-you-need-to-know-about-sports-betting-in-iowa/
https://www.thegazette.com/news/competitiveness-may-drive-players-to-bet-on-own-teams/ (AP)

The “Big 18.” Andy Patton, “The Big Ten is now up to 18 schools, so now what? Locked on Big 10; The Big Ten stopped at 18 schools, leaving out Cal and Stanford. Are they waiting for something bigger?” CBS, Aug. 7, 2023, https://www.cbs8.com/article/sports/locked-on/lo-national/big-10-show/big-ten-now-up-18-schools-now-what-pac-12-conference-realignment/535-df4bdd79-1b33-4100-be16-3d2a540f1333 (“The Big Ten is now the Big 18 after adding Oregon and Washington on top of USC and UCLA to create another mega conference, which gutted the Pac-12 and eliminated a Power-5 conference from the sport.

The moves helped ensure the conference stays among the top dogs after the SEC added Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 and the Big 12 responded by adding Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, and Central Florida for 2023-24 and then Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah for 2024 and onward.”)

$7 billion TV revenue. Josh Helmer, “What will every Iowa football coach earn in 2023?” Hawkeyes Wire, July 15, 2023, https://hawkeyeswire.
AP, “Big Ten lands $7 billion, NFL-style TV contracts,” The Gazette, Aug. 18, 2022, https://www.thegazette.com/iowa-football/big-ten-lands-7-billion-nfl-style-tv-contracts/ (“The Big Ten's new $7 billion media rights deal will string the conference's top football games across three major networks each week, creating an NFL-style television schedule on Saturdays.

The Big Ten announced Thursday it has reached seven-year agreements with Fox, CBS and NBC to share the rights to the conference's football and basketball games.

The deals go into effect in 2023, expire in 2030 and eventually will allow the conference's soon-to-be 16 member universities to share more than $1 billion per year, a person familiar with the terms told The Associated Press.”)

Coaches highest paid in 40 states. David Evans, “Complete List Of The Highest-Paid State Employees: College Coaches Dominate Top Earning Public Sector Workers,” The Sports Daily, July 20, 2023, https://thesportsdaily.com/news/complete-list-of-the-highest-paid-state-employees-college-coaches-dominate-top-earning-public-sector-workers/ (“. . . the highest-earning state employees. The list is dominated by college coaches with 40 of the 50 states’ top-earners in the public sector holding the job title of ‘College Football Head Coach’ or ‘College Basketball Head Coach.’”)

Iowa coaches’ salaries. Adam Wells, “Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Agree to New Contract Through 2029 Valued at $7M per Year,” BleacherReport, Jan 14, 2022, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10023859-kirk-ferentz-iowa-agree-to-new-contract-through-2029-valued-at-7m-per-year

Josh Helmer, “What will every Iowa football coach earn in 2023?” Hawkeyes Wire, July 15, 2023, https://hawkeyeswire.usatoday.com/lists/iowa-hawkeyes-2023-college-football-coaching-salaries-kirk-ferentz-brian-phil-parker-levar-woods-seth-wallace/ (“The Big Ten had reportedly signed a $7 billion TV deal in August of 2022 . . .. Kirk Ferentz, Head Coach 2023 salary: $7 million”)

Chad Leistikow and Steve Berkowitz, “Iowa football coaches' salaries for 2023 season: Phil Parker's pay bumps to $1.4 million,” Hawk Central, Des Moines Register, July 13, 2023, https://www.hawkcentral.com/story/sports/college/iowa/football/2023/07/13/iowa-football-coach-salaries-revealed-for-2023-phil-parker-levar-woods-brian-ferentz/70409682007/ (“Here is the summary of the 11 new salaries for Iowa football in 2023, sorted by dollar amount, before performance bonuses:

Phil Parker, defensive coordinator/defensive backs, $1.4 million (up from $1.3 million, a 7.7% increase)

Brian Ferentz, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, $850,000 (down from $900,000, a 5.6% decrease)

Seth Wallace, assistant defensive coordinator/linebackers, $755,000 (up from $700,000, a 7.9% increase)

Raimond Braithwaite, strength and conditioning, $725,000 (up from $675,000, a 7.4% increase)

LeVar Woods, special teams coordinator, $700,000 (up from $625,000, a 12% increase)

George Barnett, offensive line, $645,000 (up from $600,000, a 7.5% increase)

Kelvin Bell, defensive line, $620,000 (up from $575,000, a 7.8% increase)

Kelton Copeland, wide receivers, $495,000 (up from $460,000, a 7.6% increase) Jay Niemann, assistant defensive line/recruiting, $495,000 (up from $460,000, a 7.6% increase) Ladell Betts, running backs/recruiting, $410,000 (up from $380,000, a 7.9% increase) Abdul Hodge, tight ends, $325,000 (up from $275,000, a 15.4% increase”)

$50 million loan. Vanessa Miller, “University of Iowa gives athletics $50 million ’loan’” The Gazette, April 5, 2021, https://www.thegazette.com/education/university-of-iowa-gives-athletics-50-million-loan/ (“[O]utgoing UI President Bruce Harreld has agreed to permanently end an earlier deal requiring athletics to contribute $2 million a year in direct support to the main campus.

Additionally, the UI main campus — facing budget cuts and tens of millions in pandemic-propelled losses of its own — is nonetheless shipping $50 million to the typically self-sustaining athletics department this budget year.

That money, according to UI spokeswoman Anne Bassett, will come from the university's cash reserves and come 'in the form of an internal loan that will be repaid over the next 10 to 15 years.’”)

Conflicts of interest abound. Sources for this paragraph come from multiple sources: other sources listed here, personal experiences, confirmed conversations with participants, coaches’ contracts.

College football revenue. Whatever one counts, it’s millions and billions; it’s a big industry. There are numbers for top teams, conferences, some total revenue, some revenue less expenses, some for a year, some for length of contract, some for total athletic program, some just for football, some including TV revenue, others not. While a “national annual total” is hard to find, here are some statistics.

Doug Robinson, “College football: The business that’s like no other; When it comes to the bottom line, college football seems to have it all figured out,” Deseret News, July 29, 2023, https://www.deseret.com/2023/7/29/23801644/college-football-the-business-thats-like-no-other (“Imagine you have been offered the opportunity to buy a business that offers the following inducements:

• The business generates billions of dollars annually — an average of more than $30 million in revenues per franchise, according to Business Insider, with some reaching more than $200 million. There are 131 major franchises nationally. According to Forbes, 25 of them combined to earn an average of $1.5 billion in profit on annual revenues of $2.7 billion.

• The business is recession proof. There is no downturn in the economy that is so bad that people won’t pay for your product. And it never ever goes out of style. The only thing that can slow it down is a once-in-century pandemic.

• The business receives endless, nationwide advertising — and it’s all FREE!! Someone else does it for you. Some businesses actually pay you for the privilege! TV outlets pay zillions just to show your business on their screens almost every day of the week. It’s a seasonal business, and yet newspapers, radio programs, magazines and TV shows devote hours and hours to discussing your product day and night, year-round, which is just another free marketing/advertising tool, as far as you’re concerned. And it just keeps coming. There are entire businesses devoted to betting on the outcome of your business each week, and there are video games that mimic what your business does every Saturday in the fall.

• The business has more than 100 young, physically fit employees at the various franchises to provide a highly valued form of entertainment for the public. Sounds expensive? Well, the average employee works for peanuts — expenses, tuition waivers, free shoes, food, etc. Most of them would do it for nothing. The stars of the business can demand money these days, but, guess what! A third party pays for them under a program called NIL — name, image and likeness!

• There is some overhead, but much of the equipment is provided free by companies eager to have your business market their uniforms, other apparel, shoes, equipment and other products. And — get this — most states kick in tax money and student fees to subsidize the business.

• There is an unlimited supply of customers who will patronize your business. The customer base grows every year. It’s like compounding interest, with customers as the currency. Every year, a new graduating class emerges from universities and they instantly become paying customers, and they marry and produce offspring/future customers. Last year a near-record 37.3 million customers bought tickets to patronize your business, making it the largest year-over-year increase since 1982.

• This business has major, highly recognizable brands all over the country that bring in millions from people wanting to buy merchandise with your name and logos emblazoned on them — hats, apparel, mugs — which of course also means more free advertising.

• The “CEO” of each franchise is often the highest paid employee in the state. That’s how valuable your business is. And part of his salary is paid for by equipment companies and radio/TV stations and a group called boosters, who donate hundreds of millions of dollars to help pay the boss and support the company he oversees.

Universities used to be in the business of education with a side interest in football; now they are football franchises with a side interest in education. If the top 32 college football teams decided to do it, they could form a professional league that could challenge the NFL for revenues and customers, all under the guise of — try not to laugh — institutions of higher learning.”)

Dean Straka, “Big Ten leads Power Five conferences with $845.6 million in revenue in 2022 fiscal year, per report; Power Five conferences combined to bring in $3.3 billion in revenue last year,” CBS, May 19, 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/big-ten-leads-power-five-conferences-with-845-6-million-in-revenue-in-2022-fiscal-year-per-report/ (“Power Five conferences combined for more than $3.3 billion in total revenue during the 2022 fiscal year, according to USA Today. The Big Ten led the pack at $845.6 million.

Big Ten $845.6 million SEC $802 million ACC $617 million Pac-12 $580.9 million Big 12 $480.6 million)

“Top 20 Most Profitable College Football Programs,” Athnet, https://www.athleticscholarships.net/profitable-college-football-programs.htm (“The 20 most profitable college football programs made an eye-popping $925 million combined after expenses. The SEC is the leading conference on the field and on the balance sheet, as it has nine schools in the top 20. Of the remaining 11 most profitable programs, there are four from the Big Ten, three from Pac-12, two from the Big-12 and one from the ACC. Here’s the complete list:”)

Christina Gough, “Revenue of the NCAA from television broadcast payments and licensing rights from 2012 to 2027(in million U.S. dollars),” Statista, March 23, 2023, https://www.statista.com/statistics/219608/ncaa-revenue-from-television-rights-agreement/ (“In its 2022 fiscal year, the NCAA generated 870 million U.S. dollars in revenue from television broadcast payments and licensing rights. Over the term of the contract the multimedia and marketing rights payments will reach a total of almost 10.55 billion U.S. dollars.”)

College players percentage in NFL. Kern Campbell, “How Many College Football Players Make It To The NFL?” Gameday Culture, Aug. 16, 2023, https://gamedayculture.com/how-many-college-football-players-make-it-to-the-nfl/ (“The percentage of college football players that make it to the NFL is 1.6 percent. . . . Just to put it into perspective, only the top 8% of the top 1% of the top 1% of high school football players will make it into the NFL.”)

Career of NFL player. Jeffrey May, “How long is the average career of an NFL player? The NFL is one of the toughest, most physically demanding sports on the planet, leading to players having the shortest playing careers on average,” https://en.as.com/nfl/how-long-is-the-average-career-of-an-nfl-player-n/ (“The average career length of an NFL player is 3.3 years.”)

NFL Injuries. For a variety of statistics see, “NFL Injuries Statistics and Trends in 2023,” GitnuxMarketData, Sept. 5, 2023, https://blog.gitnux.com/nfl-injuries-statistics

Win-win solution. As this is a personal proposed solution there are no “sources” in the usual sense.

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