UPDATE (1:00 pm, EST): in a statement provided to TheDC, Iowa athletic director Gary Barta maintains the university has not violated any NCAA rules.
I was made aware that a number of current and former UI students from various sports attended the rally last night.
University of Iowa student-athletes are encouraged to participate in the political process as individuals. However, like any endorsement by a student or faculty member, their participation should not be considered representative of the entire team or university. In recent months, candidates from both parties representing a spectrum of ideals have visited Iowa City. We will continue to support this approach without influencing particular political choice or agendas.
The jersey presented to Mr. Trump was not an official Iowa football jersey. No candidate has asked for, or received, any official Iowa athletic equipment or apparel.
We are confident that no violations of NCAA rules and regulations have taken place.
Donald Trump brought the University of Iowa football and wrestling teams onto the stage at his Tuesday rally and might have inadvertently forced the Hawkeyes into a major NCAA rules violation.
According to the Washington Post, Trump publicly touted endorsements from both teams to woo potential voters attending the official campaign event on the University’s campus.
“Come on up here, right? Get up,” Trump yelled before bringing the players on stage. “What a team, what a team. And they were so nice: They endorsed Trump. They like Trump, and I like them.”
— Brent Griffiths (@BrentGriffiths) January 27, 2016
“Get the wrestlers up here,” Trump continued. “These guys — I’m not messing with ’em… Undefeated team, University of Iowa.”
And here come the University of Iowa wrestlers…. pic.twitter.com/psrmezIyD3
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 27, 2016
Though Trump isn’t the first candidate to pander to Iowa sports fans — Carly Fiorina tweeted she was supporting Iowa over her alma mater Stanford in the Rose Bowl — he is the first to advertise official endorsements from college teams, a possible violation of NCAA rules.
A similar situation arose in 2014 when photos of Ole Miss and Mississippi State football players were circulated in a 2014 campaign email eliciting support for Sen. Thad Cochran.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, “State Republican Party spokesman Bobby Morgan said he created and sent the email and, if it runs afoul of NCAA rules, it was an honest mistake.”
Furthermore, a documentary supporting Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s 2014 re-election bid ran afoul of NCAA rules by using footage from a University of Kentucky basketball game.
The NCAA, the University of Iowa’s compliance office and Trump’s campaign could not be reached for comment by TheDC.