CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- When the clock struck zero at Saturday's final Big Four Classic in Des Moines, many fans were probably leaving with similar emotions. "Why is it that we cannot, in a state of three million people, figure out for those programs to play each other regularly. I actually think that is a failure of public policy and that is the business we are in. Let's solve that problem," said State Senator Jeff Danielson, who thinks a bill can do it.
For now it would require the three major public universities, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa to play each other annually in men's basketball. Danielson, a UNI alum said, "For a home and home series among the three but I'm also open if there are other considerations." An amendment could include private Drake University as well. The Senate Democrat said, "The bill is an opportunity to offer a solution, a requirement."
An expanded Big Ten schedule which began this year is partly to blame but Danielson is quick to point out the Hawkeyes other non-conference opponents like Bryant, Alabama State and Western Carolina who will take home up to $100,000 after their match ups in Iowa City. Those are dollars that could benefit local schools like Drake and UNI. "Our public universities provide athletic opportunities. They do have an economic benefit to the community and state of Iowa and I think it is a time to speak up when we think that policy is falling short," Danielson said.
The bill could include monetary penalties if schools refused to comply. Danielson said, "Think about it. That's not that hard of a goal. Why would we say, as a state whose invested tax payer dollars in our three public universities, why would we be ok as policy makers with an outcome that says it is ok if our basketball programs don't play each other?"
Whether you bleed cardinal, black, purple or blue, Danielson says he will fight on for fans of the sport, but also for the state of Iowa. "I'm not just going to let that go with what we know of right now. I don't think that is acceptable to Iowans. Sometimes the legislative process can create a new opportunity to talk about it and that's my goal."
The Iowa State-Iowa rivalry will not discontinue. Danielson plans to file the bill during the first week of the upcoming legislative session.