University of Iowa Not Budging on Return of Swimming, Despite Football’s Return

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As the Big Ten returns to football, questions surround the cutting of four sports by the University of Iowa. Iowa had previously used the lack of football revenue as a major reason that four sports, including swimming and diving, would be eliminated.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta announced on Aug. 21 that men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis would be discontinued after the 2020-21 season — a season that the Hawkeyes were slated to host the men’s swimming NCAA championships.

“The financial fallout that COVID-19 led to the postponement, cancellation, of fall football. Were it not for that, we would not have been dropping those four sports. And so, Aug. 11 was a memorable day. From that point forward, we started to put a plan into action,” Barta said during a media Zoom call on Aug. 24.

But now football is back, and revenue will come along with that reversal by the Big Ten.

Even with that revenue and reversal, Barta said the decision will remain unchanged.

“Will the announcement of football change the decisions we made? No,” Barta said on Sept. 17. “The short answer is no. … Maybe our deficit goes from 75 million to 60 million. The deficit we will take on this year—I hate to use the word catastrophic, but it really is catastrophic. … Unfortunately that’s still going to be the case.”

That means that because of COVID-19 and projected losses, Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde writes that the University of Iowa was already looking to cut sports before the Big Ten postponed football in the first place.

Athletes and fans are not going to led the sports be canceled without a fight, but it is not a fight they can win with the university, especially since Barta has stated that no private fundraising will be accepted by the athletics department in this situation, according to the Daily Iowan.

The Save Iowa Sports fundraising campaign has received more than $1.65 million in pledges and written an open letter to the university, the Daily Iowan reported this week.

It reads in part, “We have heard your message about financial hardship as well as various figures thrown around in the press conferences about financial need for the Athletic Department as a reason to end these four Olympic sports. We want to engage in that conversation, but short of that we want to begin by removing the burden on the Athletic Department in order to reinstate the four sports. That’s why we have taken the effort to begin to raise the money needed. No other university with comparable heritage of intercollegiate athletics has taken such drastic measures to terminate entire programs, and more than 70 years of alumni will not stand idly by to let it happen.”

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But it appears the door is still closed by the University of Iowa at this time.

3 comments

  1. Julie Tellier

    And now a lawyer filed a title 9 violation against the school and I hope the ladies win. Iowa said this was all about lack of football revenue. Their administration is disingenuous.

    Take the NCAA championship away from the school

    • Marie Colin

      Julie Tellier they aren’t selling tickets to the football games – that’s a huge loss as well.

      Our oldest swam at Iowa and our middle son currently swims at Iowa – we are devastated. But I also know the financial issues are bigger than a few games can fix.

      I wish none of this were happening – but it is. Been a rough month and rough year.

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