Thursday, July 08, 2004

Van De Velde Dodges a Bullet

Just when some Iowa State sports fans thought they might not have Bruce Van De Velde to kick around anymore, the athletic director dodged a big-time bullet today.

Gregory Geoffroy, the school president, said that Van De Velde will remain as the director as an “exempt Professional and Scientific” employee, effective July 1, 2005, rather than a contract employee. Van De Velde has worked under contract since coming to Iowa State on Nov. 15, 2000. His contract expires June 30, 2005.

“This change makes the employment agreement with the athletics director consistent with that of other senior administrators who report directly to me,” Geoffroy said. “Bruce and I agreed to this change during our recent conversations about his contract.”

Geoffroy said, “Bruce has done an excellent job of leading the athletics department, particularly through the various serious budget challenges that the university and the department have faced.

“He has taken positive steps to increase revenue while also being mindful of the interests of our fans and the welfare of our student-athletes, and I have confidence in his continued leadership of our athletics program.”

Van De Velde has not been popular among some Iowa State fans, and many wondered if he was the right guy to lead the university’s athletic department in the coming years.

He has not been regarded as a “people person” and his leadership skills have been questioned by some fans.

However, it’s my gut feeling that Geoffroy’s confidence in Van De Velde will be good for Dan McCarney, Iowa State’s football coach, Wayne Morgan, the Cyclones’ men’s basketball coach, and all other coaches presently employed by the university.

Far too often these days in the high pressure of big-time collegiate
athletics, a new athletic director eventually brings in his or her own coaches, leaving behind coaches who had done well in the past.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to continue serving as athletics director at Iowa State,” Van De Velde said today. “I am extremely proud of our staff and the efforts they make on behalf of our student-athletes.”

Van De Velde manages a $27 million budget that includes 11 sports for women and seven for men.

Professional and Scientific is a category of employment at Iowa State that includes administrators, staff, some researchers and others. Exempt P@S employees serve at the pleasure of their supervisors, and they are evaluated annually against a set of performance objectives established by their supervisors.

Gene Smith, who preceded Van De Velde in the athletic director job, also held an exempt P&S appointment. Smith is now the athletic director at Arizona State.


Iowa State’s season-opening football game Sept. 4 against Northern Iowa will start at 1 p.m. in Jack Trice Stadium. That’s somewhat of a surprise, considering school officials have favored night games early in the season at home in recent years because the stadium now has permanent lights.


When I was in London a couple of years ago, I did something I had always wanted to do.

I made the short trip to Wimbledon.

Not for the tournament. Just for a look.

Wimbledon, of course, is regarded as the citadel of tennis. It is to tennis what Yankee Stadium in New York is to baseball, what Lambeau Field in Green Bay is to football.

I spent most of a cool morning in May, 2002, looking at the buildings and the courts at Wimbledon, where the 2004 championships were recently concluded. I’m fully aware that the sport of tennis has slipped considerably in popularity world-wide in recent years but, still, I came away from my tour of Wimbledon thinking that everything was all right with the game.

Then I read what Anne Guerrant wrote to her brother, Al Schallau, about Wimbledon and got a whole different perspective.

Guerrant, 55, is the former Mona Schallau, who grew up in Iowa City. She once was among the world’s best tennis players, and knows about playing at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, otherwise known as Wimbledon. I’ll explain her name change later in this essay.

First to her thoughts about a place that has 20 grass courts, five red shale courts, a museum and six restaurants. The way Guerrant explains it to her brother—who forwarded her thoughts to me and gave me permission to use them--there’s more to Wimbledon than the fresh strawberries and Devonshire cream that King George V made famous.

“I always hated Wimbledon for the most part….pompous officials, horrible weather, bad food and blatant favoritism toward top players,” Guerrant said. “There were three separate locker rooms: One for seeded players, one for the middle ranked, and the largest one downstairs for the rank and file.

“I was assigned to all three over the years. The top locker room had a laundry service, its own massage therapist and food delivery service….”

Guerrant said her “best memory at Wimbledon occurred in 1978 in the doubles quarterfinals. I was playing with Sue Barker, an English player with a huge forehand who was among the world’s Top Ten for many years. She is now a well-known BBC sports commentator who interviews the winners on court after the Wimbledon finals.

“We were scheduled to play Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, who were not only the No. 1 seeds, but they had not lost a match all year! In fact, they had humiliated Sue and me in Kansas City a few months previously. Billie Jean had 19 Wimbledon titles at the time, and was going for her record-breaking 20th title.

“After waiting around for many hours and watching the weather grow cloudy and very cold, we finally were sent to Court 3 at around 7 p.m. We all wore long white pants and/or sweaters. As we stepped onto the court, I pointed this out to Sue and said the court condition was a great equalizer. I also told her to feel free to hit every ball as hard as she could. This was music to her ears!

“Sue belted everything. I poached badly, and the packed crowd was frenetic in their support of their own British player. It was a very close match all the way. Sue and I eventually led 5-4 in the third, my serve and 40-15, double match point. I was so nervous I could hardly breathe! It makes me nervous to write about it!”

But Guerrant kept writing.

“On the first match point, we had a rally at the net and they won it somehow,” she said. “On the second match point, I served to the ad court to Martina and hit the first volley back deep to her. Martina hit a good lob over Sue’s head and rushed the net. I ran around behind Sue to get this lob.

“However, Sue did a Michael Jordan leap into the air and hit an overhead down Martina’s alley for a winner! Game, set match! I couldn’t believe it. We won! The British crowd was overjoyed. When it was over, Billie and Martina were very gracious. Instead of making excuses, they told everyone they were just outplayed by us.

“In 1979, Billie Jean and Martina came back to Wimbledon and won Billie’s 20th title.”

Anne Guerrant now lives in Gilbert, AZ. Her brother, a California lawyer, says, “She is 55 years old and is in fantastic physical condition. She regularly plays and wins the national 50-and-over women’s tennis tournaments.”

It was on July 14, 1996 that Mona Schallau became the 148th member of the Des Moines Sunday Register’s Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

I had the pleasure of writing the story about her after following her tennis career for many years in long-distance fashion.

So how did Mona Schallau become Anne Guerrant?

“Actually, my proper name is Ramona, and Anne was my middle name,” she explained to me eight years ago. “I’ve gone by Anne for about 10 years.”

She is married to Terry Guerrant.

In 1976, Guerrant was ranked No. 6 in the nation and No. 11 in the world as a tennis player. That year, she teamed with Ann Kiyomura of San Mateo, Calif., as the nation’s No. 1 doubles team.

“My best year in professional earnings was 1976, when I made $103,000,” she told me for the Hall of Fame story. “I made between $75,000 and $100,000 for four or five years.”

The whole idea of becoming a tennis player started when an 11-year-old Mona Schallau asked her mother, Elsie, for a tennis racquet. Her mother got one by using S & H Green Stamps.

The desire to be a successful tennis player was evident when Mona was a junior at City High School in Iowa City.

There were no sports for girls, but that didn’t stop the 5-foot-4 Mona from pursuing tennis.

“I went to the school board meetings by myself and sat for 1 ½ hours to ask if they’d join the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union so I could play in the state tournament,” she said. “I ended up getting all the votes.”

She won state titles as a junior and senior, and said she would have played more girls’ sports in high school had they been available.


No one with the exception of one or two guys already checked into an insane asylum ever thought Mike Krzyzewski was serious when he talked about maybe coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

I mean, Krzyzewski coaching a sport where the players make more money than the coach would have been idiotic. The same for Roy Williams, who also was mentioned for the Lakers’ job. No way, my friend.

The way I look at it, Coach K and ol’ Roy were maybe just looking for a little attention in a lazy, hazy summer. And, yes, the pay bump will be on the way for both guys, I’m sure.

I always thought Tim Floyd was making a mistake when he left Iowa State and went to the Chicago Bulls. It wasn’t a question of whether he’d be a flop. It was how soon.

The college coaches belong in college. Let Shaq, Kobe and the rest of those spoiled multi-millionaires coach their own teams. That’s the way it’s always been.


Mike Mahon of Drake is one of the better sports information directors in the business.

I got a kick out of how he worded an e-mail this week to reporters and editors. He certainly took a stab at getting their attention. This was his message:

With the U.S. Olympic track and field trials starting this Friday in Sacramento, Calif., I hope you cover this event with the same enthusiasm that you covered the recent Olympic wrestling trials.

The amount of athletes with Iowa ties in the track and field trials is more than double the amount of Iowans who competed in the wrestling trials.

Athletes with Iowa ties in U.S. Olympic track and field trials:


Dave Paulsen, Waverly and Northern Iowa, 800

Matt Gabrielson, Belmond and ex-Drake, 5,000

Jason Lehmkuhle, ex-Drake, 5,000 and 10,000

Joey Woody, Iowa City and ex-Northern Iowa, 400 hurdles

Burke Buckman, Decorah and Northern Iowa, 400 hurdles

Jacob Pauli, ex-Northern Iowa, pole vault

Jamie Beyer, Prairie City-Monroe and ex-Iowa State, shot put

A.G. Kruger, ex-Morningside College, hammer throw

Kip Janvrin, Panora and ex-Simpson College, decathlon

Travis Geopfer, Panora and ex-Northern Iowa, decathlon


Missy Buttry, Shenandoah and Wartburg College, 5,000

Lolo Jones, ex-D.M. Roosevelt, 100 hurdles

Sarah Gray, ex-Cedar Falls High School, 3,000 steeplechase

Gina Rickert, ex-Iowa State, high jump

Aubrey Martin, Muscatine and Western Illinois, shot put

Leann Boerema, Clinton and Nebraska, shot put

Abby Emsick, Council Bluffs Lewis Central, discus

Fina Asigbee, Cedar Rapids Prairie and Missouri, heptathlon

Vol. 4, No. 242
July 8, 2004