Thursday, October 06, 2005

Actually, It Was Gary Kurdelmeier, An Assistant Athletic Director at Iowa, Who First Ordered Pink for the Visitors' Locker Room at Kinnick Stadium

I promised myself I wasn't going to write anything else about the pink locker room, pink urinals, pink toilets, pink showers, pink carpet and anything else pink at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

But things keep happening.

I mean, my friend George Wine of Coralville surprised me -- and, I'm sure, plenty of others -- when he wrote that it actually wasn't former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry who first thought pink was a good color for the visitors' locker room in the stadium.

In a column for, Wine [a retired Iowa sports information director who co-authored the book "Hayden Fry--A High-Porch Picnic" and one other Hawkeye football book] explains the pink locker room scenario this way:

"I am a believer in the First Amendment and respect the views of those who think both pro-pink and anti-pink. But I would like to lend some accuracy to this story, which has in some cases been badly reported.

"Gary Kurdelmeier was an Iowa assistant athletic director in charge of facilities in the late-1970s and into the 1980s. Earlier, he was the wrestling coach who hired an assistant named Dan Gable. Some consider that a good thing.

"But this is not about wrestling, it's about paint. Shortly before one football season opened, Kurdelmeier decided the visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium needed a fresh look. He called the UI General Stores and ordered some paint.

"He was told the only color they had in the quantity he needed was pink. He said fine, send it over. He showed the color to football coach Hayden Fry, who gave his approval. A few days later the walls in the visitors' locker room had a new coat of paint.

"Fry was settling into a 20-year run as Iowa's football coach. When he saw the shiny pink locker room, he liked it. Fry majored in psychology at Baylor and figured pink might mellow out his opponents, maybe make them a little less nasty. Given the fact that Iowa went 19 years without a winning season, Fry needed all the help he could get.

"Through the years, most visiting teams ignored the pink walls, but some took notice. Hayden had fun with it. When a coach complained, he would say, 'Gottcha!' Consider the fate of two coaches who took exception to the color. Bo Schembechler's Michigan team lost, 26-0, in 1984, and Mike White's Illinois team lost, 59-0, in 1985."

In the old locker room, only the walls were pink. In the new locker room, the carpet and fixtures are also pink. Well, not exactly pink. The color is more of an off-rose....."


Another big part of the "pink" story that's been making the rounds centers on someone named Erin Buzuvis, who has been described in news accounts as "a University of Iowa law professor [who] said the school is promoting homophobia and will challenge whether Iowa is violating NCAA rules by painting a visitors' locker room pink.

"Erin Buvuvis moved to Iowa from Boston in the fall and discovered the visiting team's locker room at Kinnick Stadium was pink--something she said promotes sexism and homophobia.

"But officials with the school's sports department said they won't change the pink walls....."

Here's what Wine wrote about Buzuvis:

"One of the great things about living in the Iowa City area is that every now and then something unusual is guaranteed to happen. The latest example is the bruhaha over the visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium.

"......When adjunct law professor Erin Buzuvis suggested pink promotes homophobia and sexism, some took issue with her view and the news media jumped on the story.

"A campus meeting was held and both sides aired their opinions. At last Saturday's homecoming football game, there were an uncommon number of fans weawring pink. I thought we had changed school colors....."

[A Note from My Editor: Notice the pink in the above photo in Ron's column. It's about as believable as some of the other things you're seeing and hearing in the "pink" debate. Like Ron, I'm sick of the whole damn thing, too].


So now comes the following e-mail sent to many Hawkeye fans today and relayed to me by longtime Iowa booster Barry Crist of West Des Moines:

Read it and things get even more confusing.

But, like I've been saying, I absolutely, positively, definitely WILL NOT write anything else about something pink.

The e-mail:

"From: Riepe, Patrick
"To: Herky (E-mail)
"Sent: Thu, 6 Oct 2005 12:58:13 -0500
"Subject: [Herky] A note on Erin Buzuvis

"The sensitive "EBuz" is NOT a professor at the University of Iowa, despite some erroneous reporting by the media (my news organization included).

"She is an "adjunct law lecturer," which is a far cry from a professor or full-time faculty member.

"For example, I'm an adjunct instructor at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communications. What that means is that I teach ONE CLASS a semester, and I get an office that I share with four or five other adjunct instructors. I'm on campus maybe six hours a week.

"We are not full-time employees of the university (although we are paid a little bit, of course) and we're not tenured or even on tenure track.

"I don't know what Erin Buzuvis' real job is, but she isn't a professor of anything, and calling her a 'faculty member,' while technically accurate, is quite a stretch. She isn't even listed on the college's Web site {

"I don't begrudge anyone on Herky calling her a professor, because it's been repeated that way in the media so much. I just wanted to clear the air on that one point.


"P.S. And I'll say one more thing: If I went around calling myself a professor when I really wasn't, the j-school would hang me out to dry. I wonder what the College of Law thinks of EBuz these days."