Iowa Hawkeyes sports videographer’s 25-year career ends amid pandemic budget cuts

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 8:20 AM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Iowa Athletic Department to cut dozens of jobs.

Among those cut is Jerry Palmer, someone you probably don’t know, but Hawkeye fans, coaches and players will always remember.

“Iowa, Penn State, November 4th, 2000, double overtime, 26-23 win,” Jerry Palmer reminisced as he glanced at a DVD copy of a game he shot years ago. “Ladell Betts scored the touchdown to put us ahead and win the game for us.”

Palmer laughed as he recalled that the key touchdown in the game came right at him as he held his camera.

A lot of things have come right at Jerry Palmer. For the past quarter of a century he has been the team videographer for Iowa football and basketball.

Coach Fran McCaffery recently honored Palmer with the Team Appreciation Award.

“... A beloved member of the program, loves you guys, and has been incredibly close to every player who has put that jersey on,” McCaffery said during the announcement.

“JP was a member of our team,” Hawkeyes basketball star Luka Garza recalled. “He really was. When we saw him in the locker room, we were excited to see him. He loved the hawks. He traveled everywhere with us.”

Palmer has been around them all and remembers virtually every shot he has taken.

He said he hardly ever had a player mug for his camera, but he did remember one moment from a Hawkeyes’ football game in the early 2000’s.

“Brad [Banks] broke through the line and did a superman pose in front of me, and then the ref ran over and shooed him out of there,” he recalled with a smile.

There are so many memories it would be impossible to touch on all of them, but how about the night a Tom Davis Team snapped a Kansas 63 game winning streak at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

“All of a sudden Kent McCausland caught fire, it was a tight game, and then we ended up winning,” Palmer recalled. “That was one heckuva of a locker room. Jess Settles tried to lead the Hokey Pokey, and he did not do a good job. Two days later, coach Fry came to practice and taught the guys how to Hokey Pokey. That was priceless.”

Palmer’s shot of Hayden Fry being carried off the field after his 200th victory was also priceless. As was Palmer’s shot of Fry after winning the 1996 Alamo Bowl.

“Coach Fry comes walking across, and he yells, ‘hey Jerry, get this!’ And he was stomping balloons. It was a great shot. It was awesome!”

Jerry Also captured the last minute Banks to Dallas Clark pass that beat Purdue and the 55-24 beat down of Ohio State in 2017.

“Anytime you can beat Ohio State in anything, it’s a feather in your cap,” he said.

Jerry Palmer’s career started at KCRG-TV9 in 1989, first as an intern, then full-time photographer. He was a key member of the Friday Night Lights team and loved to ham it up when we shot our team photos.

And it is a high school playoff game that still goes down as one of his all-time memories.

“I was at the game with Tim Dwight and Tavian Banks in 92,” he said. “In my opinion, it could be one of the greatest high school games in the state of Iowa.”

With TV9 Palmer also was there when Iowa beat Michigan in their first home game after Chris Street had died.

And he captured Hawkeye Bret Bielema telling Iowa State’s Jim Walden how much he enjoyed beating him.

“I was the only camera to get that,” he said. “Right place, right time. That’s all that, that is.”

When the games are over you can find Jerry in his office editing and filing all the video. It’s no small task.

Sitting behind him are shelves containing hundreds and hundreds of DVDs of Iowa football and basketball games.

“I feel I am a historian,” Palmer said. “I like that title. I like looking at the history of everything.”

But Jerry Palmer’s 25-year career with the University comes to an end in August. He is a victim of the COVID-required Athletic Department budget cuts.

“It is tough, but I have great memories,” he said. “I’ve had 25 years of lots of fun. It’s meant to be, I guess, and it’s time to move on, do something else.”

But not before coach Fran McCaffery reminded the basketball banquet attendees of one thing:

“Everybody in the room, everybody who has ever been a part of this program loves Jerry Palmer,” McCaffery said.

When Jerry worked at TV9 he was known as the Sports Bear.

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