Donald Trump made a campaign stop in Iowa City, Iowa on January 27. It was pretty typical Trump by all accounts: sound and fury signifying nothing, a small but enthusiastic crowd, protesters who quickly got drowned out by Trump supporters. But one thing happened that may cause some trouble, right there in Iowa City. Not for Trump, but for the University of Iowa.
The Washington Post reports that Trump had met privately with student athletes before the rally. As soon as he stepped to the microphone, he brought 12 players from the University of Iowa football team onto the stage with him. He told the crowd:
Where’s my football team? Get over here, football team. The football team, come on! University of Iowa. Look at the size of these guys! They’re monsters. We’ve got the next Tom Brady, right over here… Look at the size of these guys! Come on up here. Come on up, right? Get up! What a team, what a team. And they were so nice: They endorsed Trump. They like Trump, and I like them. I love you guys. Look at the size, how big and strong. That’s what we like. Thank you, fellas.
A short time later, Trump repeated that with the Iowa wrestling team. Seven Hawkeye wrestlers joined The Donald on stage.
Get the wrestlers up here. Come on, fellas. Where are they? Where are they? These guys — I’m not messing with ’em… Look at these guys. Undefeated team, University of Iowa.
The crowd loved it. But neither the crowd, the athletes, nor Trump were probably aware that the students’ appearance may have been a violation of NCAA rules, assuming that the team members who appeared were actually there to supply an endorsement, as Trump claimed. The NCAA’s Advertising and Promotional Guidelines states that advertising and promotion of non-profit organizations or individuals is acceptable unless :
(1) the ad or association endorses a political candidate or party, or (2) the ad or association advocates a viewpoint on controversial issues of public importance.
Both of those items could apply to an athlete’s appearance at a Trump rally. So could this prohibition on promoting purveyors of hate speech:
Public personalities whose personas/images are inappropriate for NCAA audiences (e.g., those who promote hatred, misogyny or discrimination.)
The Des Moines Register reports that the university is saying that the student athletes did not violate NCAA rules, but the NCAA compliance office has yet to weigh in. In 2014, both Senators Thad Cochrane in Mississippi and Mitch McConnell in Kentucky were found to be in violation of those rules when they used still images and video of NCAA events in campaign promotions.
Watch the video of Trump’s Iowa rally, via YouTube:
Featured image via YouTube screen capture