WILLIAMS: What is the IU name worth to us?

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

viewpoint-williams-brianOn Jan. 24, Indiana University Health replaced Clarian Health as the name of the joint effort between Indiana University and Methodist Health Group Inc. for the management of Methodist Hospital, University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children.

For 144 years, the state of Indiana has invested taxpayer dollars to create a pre-eminent academic institution, providing funds for the creation of schools of medicine, law, nursing, business, arts and humanities. On June 7, 1852, Indiana University was recognized as the “university of the state.” In 1867, the state of Indiana passed legislation that established the annual appropriation for the university.

The taxpayers of Indiana have provided funding to Indiana University every year since then. Consistent taxpayer support and effective leadership have created a pre-eminent institution with strong brand awareness and significant brand equity within Indiana and beyond. Academic excellence at Indiana University has been complemented by athletic success, notably in swimming, soccer, track and field, rugby and basketball. I learned the value of the Indiana University brand after graduating from IU and entering the job market for the first time.

However, what was noticeably absent from the announcement of the naming-rights deal of Indiana University Health was the consideration paid by Methodist Health Group Inc. to Indiana University for the use of the brand we the taxpayers nurtured and funded.

This naming-rights deal raises a host of important policy questions that should be addressed. Primary among those considerations: Who has the right to give away a state asset, as the IU name is, for what reasons and under what terms?

In a knowledge-based economy, intellectual property and the rights associated with it represent tremendous market value. In an economic recession, when our elected officials are reducing state funding for higher education, the public should rightly be concerned about how naming-rights deals are structured, how the value of those rights are determined, and the consideration offered in those deals.

Our taxpayer-funded football stadium is known as Lucas Oil Stadium. In that naming-rights deal, the business entity committed to a long-term contract with annual payments for the permission to affix its name to the stadium. Conseco entered into a similar contractual relationship at the Fieldhouse. Pepsi and Toyota did so as well at the State Fairgrounds. Astute businessmen and businesswomen can establish a fair market value for naming rights and, the state could establish a fair market value for a hospital system’s use of the IU name.

Clearly, the billions of dollars invested by Indiana taxpayers in Indiana University over the last 144 years created the brand equity Methodist Health Group coveted. A fair deal allowing for the use of the Indiana University name could help alleviate the impact of state budget cuts on the university. The budget cuts as proposed by the state will hurt the state long term. A naming-rights deal also could provide taxpayers with some return on their investment in a great university.

Indiana taxpayers have funded leading academic institutions whose value is represented in their name, their faculty, their academic programs, their sports programs and their graduates. These state assets should be cherished and protected. However, like all assets, they have a value that can be realized.

On the surface, this particular transaction seems to have allowed a valuable state asset to be undervalued. It is now incumbent on our policymakers to evaluate this transaction and consider legislation that creates a process for others to license state intangible assets.•


Williams is an Indianapolis-based entrepreneur and businessman, who is active in many community organizations.


  • Liability
    This article has many questions and concerns but what are the facts? I agree that this issue should be reviewed by the state. Yes, the IU brand must be preserved and maintained.

    My primary concern is with liability. How was this asset protected? The IU brand is used for its connotation â?? trust - and used to make people feel comfortable with a directional decision they make. If this trusted decision turns out to be problematic regarding service performed - what are the liabilities with this name connectivity? After all health services are litigious.

    I hope we can get more answers to the many questions associated to this collective asset.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1