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University of Iowa's commitment to curbing binge drinking questioned after beer deal

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Binge drinking is a problem on many college campuses.

A lucrative deal between the University of Iowa and Anheuser-Busch has critics questioning Hawkeye Nation's commitment to its high-profile campaign against binge drinking.

The deal allows the brewer to display the Tigerhawk logo on its promotional materials, such as posters, flags and caps. At a recent meeting of the Partnership for Alcohol Safety, a local group that seeks to curb high-risk drinking, Janet Lyness woindered aloud if if the university would likewise allow its logo to be put on a pack of cigarettes.

“When we’re seeing the University of Iowa associated with beer ... it just bothers me.”

- Janet Lyness

“I just think it’s a bad idea,” Lyness said. “When we’re seeing the University of Iowa associated with beer ... it just bothers me.”

The logo will always be accompanied by the words “Responsibility Matters,” and UI officials will have approval of every instance of use, Rick Klatt, athletics department associate marketing director, told the group. 

Though approved by the athletics department, the contract was signed with Hawkeye Sports Properties, which paid the athletics department $5.8 million last year for the right to market sports-related sponsorships. The deal was signed in June, but many members of the Presidential Committee on Athletics did not learn details of the agreement until The Des Moines Register asked about the sponsorship deal. Now that the deal has been struck, school officials should at least review “if this was a good or bad decision” when they consider renewing the four-year contract later, College of Public Health Dean Sue Curry, a member of the Partnership for Alcohol Safety, said.

Tom Rocklin, vice president for student life at the school, said University of Iowa has focused with its message about responsible alcohol use in recent years. He told the Register the contract decision was a “close call,” but noted the beermaker will pay a total of $185,000 over the four-year contract to the school's Alcohol Harm Reduction program.

Click for more from The Des Moines Register.

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