The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Behind the scenes of Caitlin Clark’s big night

Leading up to Clark’s NCAA all-time point record, UI employees prepared for its national attention.
Cody Blissett
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark goes up for the record-breaking shot during a women’s basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and Michigan at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 106-89.

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark swished the ball flawlessly into the net, making her the NCAA all-time women’s basketball leading scorer on Feb. 15 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It was also a momentous day for Bailey Turner and his team.

Turner, University of Iowa assistant director of athletic communications, said the lead-up to Clark’s record drew the largest media contingent in Iowa women’s basketball history. He said there are usually 80-90 credentialed media at women’s basketball games, but the 106-89 victory agaainst Michigan amassed 150 total personnel.

“Trying to accommodate and make room for another 60 isn’t easy,” Turner said. “We had to put out extra rows for TV and video and photo to make sure everybody was covered … they’re obviously trying to send their best.”

In the stands, Carver was a sold-out house. The UI announced in August that the 2023-24 season is the first time in school history that the program has filled Carver.

Turner said he barely squeaked by to eat lunch and dinner the day of the record because of the outpouring of phone calls and at least four tours he gave of Carver to national media starting at 9 a.m.

The week leading up to Clark’s record was equally busy, Turner said.

“That week of basically just getting bombarded with phone calls and emails from every corner of the United States trying to figure out how they’re going to cover this game,” he said.

During the game, Rob Brooks, play-by-play announcer for Hawkeye Radio Network, sat next to Turner on press row, ready to announce Clark’s record-breaking moment.

Clark made the eight points she needed to break the record less than three minutes into the first quarter.

“When she made that first layup and you could just kind of get that sense that she was kind of in the zone, you got a feeling that was going to happen quick,” Brooks said. “My philosophy has always been I don’t write anything down. I don’t want anything scripted.”

When Clark made her record-breaking logo shot, he had to act as both eyes and ears for his listeners on the radio.

“We’ve had a spike on our YouTube page,” he said. “It’s been crazy all year really as far as the number of listeners and the feedback we’re getting from all over the country.”

Kelsey Laverdiere, UI associate athletics director of marketing and multimedia, said her team was ready for Clark to possibly break the point record at the Feb. 11 game against Nebraska.

She said her team tracked Clark’s points since the beginning of the year.

“Because Caitlin has a partnership with Nike, Nike was great to work with and we set up some joint marketing efforts that really integrated their celebration of her as well,” she said. “When it came down to the other logistics of the celebration, we wanted to do streamers, we wanted to make sure we had all the necessary video and graphics prepared.”

Laverdiere said her team ensured fans could interact with Clark as much as possible, but not every attendee could get an autograph or receive a high five.

“We ended up taking all of her trophies and in the north concourse — we called it the Caitlin shrine,” she said.

Following the Hawkeye win and an almost hour-long fan celebration in Carver, journalists packed shoulder to shoulder into the press conference room waiting for Clark.

Finding a room to fit all of the media outlets was a challenge that Turner said he and Matt Weitzel, UI associate athletics director for strategic communications, thought of in advance.

“For something like this, it’s a completely different deal. I was like, Yeah, I’m kind of worried about the fire code, honestly, just to get everybody in there,’” Turner told Weitzel the Monday before the game. “We had to hire a couple more sound and audio people so TV could plug their cameras in so they pick up the best audio for television.”

Laverdiere said since she started at the UI eight years ago, she didn’t expect to work with so many generational talents on the court.

“We just keep having them — even Kathleen Doyle — there’s been a lot of women’s basketball and I’m so excited to be continuing to celebrate all their successes,” Laverdiere said. “I really don’t think they’re done yet. I think Caitlin is lighting the fire even more.”

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About the Contributors
Sabine Martin
Sabine Martin, Executive Editor
Sabine Martin is the Executive Editor of The Daily Iowan. She is a senior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communications and international studies. Sabine is also earning a minor in French. As a current member PolitiFact Iowa team, Sabine was previously Managing News Editor, News Editor, Summer News Editor, and a News Reporter covering higher education at the DI. Sabine interned for U.S. News and World Report in Washington, D.C. in 2023 as an education reporter and for the Cedar Rapids Gazette in 2022.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.