DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa State’s graduation ceremony was Saturday afternoon. So was a Cyclone men’s basketball game.
ISU assistant coach Cornell Mann couldn’t be in both spots, until a call from the registrar came.
ISU President Steven Leath wanted to see if was possible for Mann could do both. So, before ISU headed to Wells Fargo Arena for the 83-54 win against Drake, Mann threw on a graduation gown, got a picture taken with Leath and received his degree.
“It was absolutely awesome,” Mann said. “It was really great for President Leath to take the time to consider me in terms of doing it.”
Mann spent about a year working on a degree in higher education and leadership. He did it to prove that he could and show his kids they can accomplish anything. Mann hopes to transition into athletic administration later in life.
“One day, when I am old and gray, I am already bald, but when I am done coaching, having exhausted all avenues as a college basketball coach, then I would like to be an athletic director or assistant athletic director,” Mann said. “I enjoy the culture of college athletics and college education and campuses and that lifestyle.”
It’s not common for an assistant coach to try to juggle classes on top of recruiting, coaching and family responsibilities. Mann said head coach Fred Hoiberg made it easy for him to fit it all in.
“If I didn’t have Fred as a boss it wouldn’t have happened,” Mann said. “Most places you coach at, the head coach would feel that you are borrowing work time to get personal things done. Fred, not once, thought that. He thinks it’s awesome that I got it done.”
A leadership class struck with Mann throughout the process. It reminded him why he wanted to get into coaching and gave him a few ideas that he incorporates into his job with ISU.
“When you are a leader you can’t take yourself too seriously,” Mann said. “I really believe that’s real because if you do then you miss why you became a leader. You miss the fact that you are leading people.”