The astonishment of a canceled spring season is turning to hope for the future for Iowa’s Laulauga Tausaga.
“I think at first it was just a shock. You don’t really know what’s happening,” said Tausaga, a senior thrower on the track and field team. “With the news of next year being there, my energy is very renewed. … I was like, ‘I want to come back, I want to finish at Iowa.’”
Tausaga and her track and field teammates got the word last Friday that all scholarships for seniors would be honored by Iowa.
“I was so excited. I called everybody, because it just gives us the chance to finalize this chapter in our lives of being collegiate athletes, especially all the seniors, so I’m just very, very happy that Iowa decided to give their seniors another year,” said Tausaga.
Tausaga’s situation is one that’s playing out in athletic departments around the country — how to accommodate seniors planning to use their extra eligibility within reduced budgets.
“Everybody knew that when this passed, the finances of next year are certainly going to look much different than they do this year,” Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said. “That’s why we sat down with our coaches and said you have to figure out a way to do this.”
Tough conversations that Barta says then moved to the student-athletes.
“Going to them and talking about, do you even want to come back?” Barta said. “If you do want to come back, what if we don’t have scholarship money? What if we do have scholarship money, but it’s less?”
Barta says he expects between 25 and 35 seniors to return next year. Tausaga will be one of them, thankful that her full scholarship will be extended another season.
“I knew it was going to be difficult to come back without that aid that really helped me,” Tausaga said. “Now it’s more solidified for me to be like, okay, I’m coming back. We’re going to make it a really great year.”
Returning to Iowa isn’t the only big thing for Tausaga in 2021. She’s also going to have another chance to make the United States Olympic team for the Summer Games in Tokyo.