University of Iowa Women’s Swimming & Diving Team Issues Title IX Complaint Over Termination

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Four members of the University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving team are challenging the University’s announcement to cut the swimming and diving program – both men and women, at the end of this academic year. The four members are Sage OhlensehlenChristina KaufmanAlexa Puccini and Kelsey Drake.

They are challenging the University’s “failure to provide equitable athletic opportunities for its female students and equitable treatment of female student athletes, including the University’s announced elimination of a viable female sports team, with a venerable history and strong public support” as outlined in the court document.

The legal challenge is advanced under Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972.

The swimmers contend that the elimination of this sport violates their rights, and the rights of other student-athletes similarly-situated, under that law.

Read the full court document here.

Iowa stated the lack of football revenue was the reason, but now football is back and university officials have not reversed course.

Iowa’s women’s team was ninth at Big Ten’s this year out of 13 teams as no women’s team in the Big Ten, besides the University of Maryland, has cut women’s swimming, making this decision a truly historical one.

The University of Iowa is also scheduled to host the upcoming men’s NCAA Division I swimming and diving championships in 2021 as their world class facility first opened its doors in the summer of 2010 and has hosted the 2015 men’s NCAAs as well as five Big Ten championships – three men and two women.

The University of Iowa qualified four swimmers to the 2020 NCAA championships before the meet was cancelled to slow down COVID-19 – two from each team. Senior Hannah Burvill qualified in the 200 free along with junior Kelsey Drake (200 butterfly), sophomore Anze Fers Erzen (200 back) and junior Daniel Swanepoel (200 breaststroke).

The Hawkeye women finished as high as second at the 1986 Big Ten Championships in a tie with Minnesota as the Hawkeye men first started competing at the Big Ten Championships in 1919. The Iowa men celebrated conference titles in 1936, 1981 and 1982 as they were a consistent top five team from 1978 – 1996 under coach Glenn Patton.

During his tenure, Patton coached Artur Wojdat to nine individual NCAA titles, including four straight in the 500 from 1989 – 1992. He also won the 1650 three times from 1990 – 1992 and the 200 free in 1989 and 1991.

Patton also coached Rafal Szukala to national titles in the 100 fly in 1994 and 200 fly in 1992 as he was the last individual national champion for the University of Iowa in swimming and diving.

On the women’s side, Iowa won 14 individual events at the Big Ten Championships, with the last coming from Becky Stoughton in the 1650 in 2015, as well as the 800 free relay in 1986.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Vicki Ramseyer Morrow

    As a diver who was a freshman on the 1986 Hawkeye Women’s Swimming & Diving Team, I am thoroughly disgusted by the University’s lack of regard for the sport and the athletes. The AD spent two minutes with the teams when he told them (during the first week of school) that the programs were cut. Obviously he didn’t have time for them anymore.

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