University of Iowa responds to 'Alliance' announcement from Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

The much-discussed “Alliance” between three major college sports conferences was announced Tuesday. Though the agreement between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 isn’t contractual — “an agreement among three gentlemen,” the league’s commissioners termed it during a press conference — it has certainly caused a national commotion.

The University of Iowa — one of 14 Big Ten institutions to join 15 from the ACC and 12 from the Pac-12 — responded to requests from the Des Moines Register for interviews with a pair of prepared statements.

First, from new UI president Barbara Wilson: “I am particularly excited that this new alliance will strengthen the academic connections across these 41 leading research universities. Connecting these institutions athletically will create additional corridors for students, alumni, fans and supporters to find their way into exceptional universities like the University of Iowa.”

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta did not specifically address the future of the Cy-Hawk football game in a statement Tuesday.

Then, from 16th-year athletics director Gary Barta, who is the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee: “College athletics is going through transformative times. I’m excited about all the possibilities this alliance presents and what it might mean for Hawkeye student-athletes, coaches, fans and for our university.

“Two significant themes have emerged from the conversations in which I’ve participated. The first is making sure the focus remains on improving and enhancing the student-athlete experience, and the second is the complexity and challenges associated with scheduling. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on both.”

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The most obvious omission from this three-conference alliance is the Big 12. And while ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said Tuesday, “We want and need the Big 12 to do well,” it was clear that the league set to lose Oklahoma and Texas to the expanding SEC was not invited.

And with the press-release announcement that the alliance “includes a scheduling component for football and women’s and men’s basketball designed to create new inter-conference games," it naturally casts additional doubt on the future of the Cy-Hawk football game, which is on the books through the 2025 season.

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Barta’s statement did not address that specifically, but he is acknowledging scheduling “challenges” ahead. With annual Iowa-Iowa State matchups on the calendar through Sept. 6, 2025 in Ames and with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren saying, “We are not going to interfere with any existing contracts,” the Cy-Hawk game is safe for five more cycles. But it’s too early to know what the Big 12 will look like after that — let alone the Cy-Hawk matchup.