Backstroke: Iowa women’s swimming and diving not going anywhere

Hawkeye Headquarters

The University of Iowa announced Monday that the women’s swimming and diving team will be fully reinstated as an NCAA and Big Ten Conference program.

The team was originally scheduled to be discontinued at the end of this season due to financial challenges created by the pandemic.

“Every student-athlete in all 24 sports at Iowa has experienced challenges and uncertainty since the pandemic began. This has been especially true for the men and women in the four sports we announced would be discontinued after this season,” said Iowa athletic director Gary Barta. “The women’s swimming lawsuit brought forward last September, combined with the recent court order mandating the continuation of the sport during the legal process, has created additional uncertainty that could last several months or even years. We made the decision the right thing to do was to re-instate the women’s swimming and diving program and remove any uncertainty moving forward for our current student-athletes as well as high school swimmers considering attending the University of Iowa.”

The Iowa Athletics Department estimated a financial deficit of $75 million due to the COVID pandemic. To help mitigate the shortfall, a plan was announced in August 2020 for budget cuts, salary reductions, position eliminations and the end of men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s gymnastics and men’s tennis at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.

The university said the estimated deficit has been reduced to approximately $50-$60 million due to those mitigation efforts and limited revenues generated during the modified football season, but added “the financial challenge remains significant and the decision to discontinue the three men’s sports identified will remain in place.”

“We remain committed to support and care for those student-athletes, honor their scholarships if they choose to remain at Iowa and provide academic, medical and mental health support as requested,” said Barta.

A lawsuit was filed in September 2020 challenging the decision to discontinue women’s swimming.

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