Class of 2006, African-American World Studies
When Michael Morgan wore the black and gold on the Iowa Hawkeye men’s basketball team from 1984 through 1988, he cherished the noise of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“When you come through that tunnel and out onto the floor, and the fans are screaming for the Hawkeyes, you know it’s genuine and sincere,” says Michael, a fouryear letterwinner. “The fans were always a big part of our success.”
Now that Michael is an assistant coach on the Hawkeye women’s basketball team, he not only gets to relive that feeling, he gets to pass it on to his daughter—star Iowa guard Crystal Smith.
Crystal, an African-American Studies major, understands well what her dad meant when he talked about the intense loyalty of Hawkeye fans.
“He always told me how great the fans were,” Crystal says. “They’re as excited about the games as we are. It’s just phenomenal support.”
Crystal, who like Michael is a scholarship recipient (she holds the John and Mary Ann Colloton Women’s Basketball Scholarship), is grateful not just for Hawkeye fans’ emotional and moral support, but for the financial assistance I-Club members provide as well.
“I’m thankful for everything the I-Club does for us, both in athletics and academics,” says Crystal. “One of the great things about Iowa is that people think about us as students as well as athletes, and the I-Club supports us every step of the way.”
That caring fan base does more than spur the Hawkeyes on through good times and bad—it makes Michael’s job as a recruiter easier, too.
“I always tell our recruits about Hawkeye fans’ loyalty. We were in the top 25 in the nation in attendance in 2004-2005,” Michael points out. “The fans take pride in our team, and we take pride in our fans.”
Beyond screaming for the Hawkeyes at games, one of the primary ways Iowa fans show their love for the black and gold is through joining the I-Club by making annual gifts to support all aspects of the UI athletics program.
For Michael, who’s seen that support as both a student-athlete and as a coach, that generosity is explained by a simple equation. “The fans want what’s best for our players and our program, and in return we give all we can,” he says.
Iowa fans know that their legendary pride goes beyond merely cheering for the black and gold. The I-Club is helping to carry on the Hawkeye family tradition. In Crystal and Michael’s case, that’s true in more ways than one.