IOWA CITY (AP) — The University of Iowa and Anheuser-Busch have approved a new four-year agreement that allows the beer company to use Iowa's Tigerhawk logo on its posters, flags, beer cups and T-shirts — a deal some critics say conflicts with the university's efforts to curb binge drinking by students.
Jeffrey Cox, a history professor on the university's Presidential Committee on Athletics, said it's hypocritical for the university to spend money on a responsible-drinking campaign and arrest students for alcohol violations while also accepting money from a beer company.
“I've said that repeatedly, and I'll say it again. But it hasn't really changed anybody's mind,” he said.
Under the agreement approved this month by the university's athletics department, the Tigerhawk may now appear alongside Anheuser-Busch beer logos — such as for Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and Natural Light — on retail displays and promotional giveaways.
Any items using the logo require the athletics department's approval and must include the message “Responsibility Matters.”
The agreement replaces a three-year sponsorship agreement with Anheuser-Busch that expired this year, said Rick Klatt, the athletics department's associate marketing director.
Friday, Klatt said use of the Tigerhawk logo is new under the new contract with Anheuser-Busch, though everything else remains the same, such as advertising time within radio broadcasts and access to game tickets and to a golf course to entertain clients.
“They can be as creative as they would like with where they would like that Tigerhawk to appear, with, of course, the ‘drink responsible' message, but everything must be preapproved by the University of Iowa,” Klatt said. “We're confident they'll be a good partner.”
Financial details and copies of the agreement are not available because officials at the taxpayer-funded university contend the contract is not a public record.
The agreement is part of a larger one with Learfield Communications, a multimedia company in Missouri, which will pay the athletics department $114 million through 2026. Learfield paid the university at least $5.8 million this year for radio and TV broadcast rights, coaches shows, the Hawkeye Sports website and corporate sponsorships, according to Learfield's contract with the university.
All proceeds from the beer deal will fund the university's alcohol harm reduction plan, launched in 2010 to reduce binge drinking, university President Sally Mason said. The school has almost 31,000 students.
She declined to say how much money the university will receive and referred questions to Learfield. Officials with Learfield declined to reveal financial information regarding its contract with Anheuser-Busch.
Mason defended the agreement Thursday in a statement, and said Athletic Director Gary Barta discussed it with her prior to its approval.
“The requirement that the possible use of the Tigerhawk logo be accompanied by the phrase ‘Responsibility Matters' is consistent with our alcohol harm reduction initiative. The university will continue to emphasize that students and fans should consume alcohol only in a legal, safe and responsible manner,” Mason said.
The initiative against binge drinking calls for an increase in students taking classes on Friday, parental interventions, education on house parties and alternative activities at football games.
The Presidential Committee on Athletics is charged with advising the athletics department on various matters.
Bill Hines, a law professor who heads the group, said members first learned of the new sponsorship deal Thursday when the Des Moines Register published information on the agreement. He said he is seeking opinions from others on the committee, which has 17 voting members.
Iowa State University has had a similar agreement for several years with Anheuser-Busch.
The University of Nebraska has taken a harder stance against alcohol. Athletic Director Tom Osborne cracked down on alcohol consumption in skyboxes at Memorial Stadium in 2009 and asked Anheuser-Busch not to use Nebraska's colors on beer cans during the company's football-related promotion that year.
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