Mills: Shymansky drama ends bumpy Hawkeye year

Hawkeye AD Gary Barta put Iowa volleyball coach Bond Shymansky on administrative leave on May 20, continuing a calendar year of drama in the Athletics Department.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa coach Bond Shymansky looks on during a volleyball match between Iowa and Michigan State on Friday, September 21, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 3 sets to 0. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

The self-imposed tradition of integrity in Iowa athletics was challenged when volleyball head coach Bond Shymansky was cited by Athletics Director Gary Barta on May 20 for a “significant” breach of NCAA rules.

Shymansky was placed on administrative leave for 30 days following Barta’s statement, but the Athletics Department has not spoken about it since. It could be the result of a variety of infractions, ranging from treatment of players to recruiting issues.

We still don’t know the nature of Shymansky’s alleged offenses, but it’s pretty clear the situation is serious. At the very least, the growth of the volleyball program — which has very much been up-and-coming since Shymansky’s hiring — will stall. Iowa volleyball hasn’t reached the NCAA Tournament in around a quarter century, and it looks as if that won’t happen again soon.

May 20 was not the first time Barta has addressed media in an uncomfortable capacity in the last calendar year. Iowa play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin apologized for comments he made about a Terrapin player after Iowa’s loss to Maryland on Feb. 19. Barta and the Athletics Department were slow in their response — they didn’t comment on the situation until days later — and harsh in their punishment of Dolphin, not allowing him to call another game for the remainder of the team’s season. Just a few games later, men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery was suspended by the department for actions following Iowa’s loss to Ohio State on Feb. 26.

Fast forward to May 20, and Barta found himself back in front of the press handing down punishment.

Iowa hasn’t been completely alone in this on the national stage. Drama in college athletics has been all over the place in the last several years, with institutions all across the country being subject to federal investigations.

RELATED: Iowa volleyball’s Shymansky placed on administrative leave 

In 2017, several schools, including Louisville, Auburn, and Southern Cal, were connected to the arrests of 10 people in the Adidas college-basketball scandal. Soon after, similar charges brought down Nike executives. Louisville had to fire legendary head coach Rick Pitino and vacate a national championship as a result.

Iowa has not been involved in any of these high-profile cases. The mistakes made here are much more benign in comparison. But while all the facts are still unknown in the Shymansky case, the Iowa sports world is very much involved in all of the drama in the college sports world on the national level.

Just to be clear, no one wants any of these major issues to be in Iowa City. Hawkeye fans love the idea of hard-working and honest sports, and there’s no room for dishonest and easy wins. But the unneeded drama that exists in the Athletics Department is pervasive and annoying.

Things would be a lot smoother if Iowa’s volleyball program can move past any mistakes bys its head coach. It is certainly in the position in which it needs to forget the last several years and move on in the best way possible. But it’s the job of the Athletics Department to bear in mind all of its past mistakes. The lessons of the Dolphin, McCaffery, and Shymansky situations should guide the entire program.

Facebook Comments