Iowa Continues to Hide Behind Budget Excuse for Program Cuts; A.D. Says Reinstatement Unlikely

Iowa Continues to Hide Behind Budget Excuse for Program Cuts; A.D. Says Reinstatement Unlikely

University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta addressed members of the media on Monday after the school cut four sports teams on Friday, including men’s and women’s swimming and diving. The press conference was held to answer any outstanding questions about the decision that was made “because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While the majority of the questions fielded were about the lack of a fall football season and the ongoing problems with a budget deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, questions have been circulating regarding the status of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Swimming & Diving Championships, which are scheduled to take place in March 2021 at the University of Iowa. That decision was made in the spring of 2017 but no one could have foreseen a global pandemic holding the season hostage nor the University of Iowa cutting its prestigious swim team that has been around for more than 100 years.

“We immediately, one of the things we did was notify the NCAA, so they have our notification and they have not finalized anything so let’s see what their decision is,” Barta said regarding the scheduled 2021 NCAA championships in Iowa City.

Swimming World has called on moving the NCAA men’s championships out of Iowa this season and moved to a site that adequately supports swimming and diving.

The University of Iowa cut men’s and women’s swimming and diving, as well as men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis, and Barta expressed doubt that the sports could be restored once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control and the school is in good financial standing.

“I don’t want to create any false hope,” Barta said of bringing the cut sports back. “The decision to cut these sports is final and what I mean by that is the hole that has been dug by our current financial situation is very, very deep. We do have a plan forward but that is not going to flip a switch overnight. Paying back $5 million – we have a plan for it, but it is going to take quite a while.

“If I look nationally and historically when sports have been dropped, there’s a few exceptions when those sports have been brought back, but in most cases once a sport is dropped it is not likely it is going to come back. Looking at history and the hole that we are facing with this deficit that is of no fault to anyone in those sports – student-athletes, coaches, it’s not their fault. I just don’t see a short-term path forward. That being said, I will never say never. It is not likely based on the whole of the finances and history across the country.”

When Iowa announced the cuts on Friday, it used the COVID-19 pandemic as the excuse for the decision, regardless of the fact that the operating budget of the cut programs is minimal when compared to football. While there is no denying that football brings in the money to finance the Olympic sports, the knee-jerk reaction to simply cut these programs is not beneficial. Some of the leading academic students are found in these sports and the disrespect shown to current athletes and coaches and alumni is inarguable. More, in the scheme of a $75-$100 million shortfall, cutting swimming is a small step toward rectifying the situation, especially when cuts from larger budgets, i.e. football, can have a bigger impact.

The University of Iowa is the fifth Division I school this offseason to cut swimming and diving after East CarolinaConnecticutBoise State and Dartmouth, and the first Division I power five school to cut swimming since Oregon State did so last year out of the Pac-12.

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2 years ago

The day is coming when the NCAA is going to have to decide whether or not it’s just going going be football, men’s and women’s hoops, and three or four other random women’s sports to maintain Title 9 compliance because that’s where we are headed. You can still field a football team with 65 scholarships and no “quality control” staff. FCS and D2 seem to be able put football teams on the field with far less. At some point soon, The Rock is also going to figure out how to make the XFL work as a true stepping stone league to the NFL, and college football will have to adjust to that.

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It is so disheartening to see all these schools get rid of swimming. I hope there are still teams left when my son graduates!

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2 years ago

I swam and played football at North Dakota State University. After we won the national championship in 1988, I switched to swimming from football. Football was great. But swimming was much greater and I am so thankful our 3 kids have become swimmers and our son had no interest in football. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta also played football at North Dakota State University. Based on my experience at NDSU, my sense is he knows zero about swimming and diving. It is hard for a non swimmer to understand what swimming is. And its probably the hardest for someone with a football background. There is zero violence in swimming and in my opinion that fact alone makes swimming the sport that America needs right now. Our son had a meet at the University of Iowa and it’s a wonderful facility. They invented the butterfly stroke for goodness sake.

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So sad that some ADs just don’t care about certain sports.

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2 years ago

Continuing to over budget Average football has killed the swim tennis and gymnastics programs and more to come in the future how they budget their money. Today’s Presser media asked what the 72 million loan was going towards and AD Gary Barta refused to answer the question. Less then 10 year old facility and ya cut the program. 1 NCAA with a 2nd coming in March, multiple B1G Championships as well as AG National events and TYR Pro Series has been there.
Someone had an agenda.

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Leander
2 years ago

You do realize that each Big 10 (or 14 or whatever it really is) School gets a lot more than $10 M in revenue from its football program. And that lots of alumni are motivated to write really large checks to their Alma Maters at football games. Without that money, their swim teams would still be swimming in 6 or 8 lane 25 yard pools like most D3 programs.

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2 years ago

Swimming is fundamental and a lifetime sport that benefits people of all ages. Supporting intercollegiate swimming supports the value of swimming.

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Mike zabel
2 years ago

Notice they didn’t touch the Wrestling program